Saturday, August 6, 2011

Horrible Bosses (2011)

Had to make a choice between seeing this movie and The Change-Up, but in the end how much difference does it make? Jason Bateman is in both -- and seemingly in five other movies currently out now.

As far as raunchy guy comedies go, I found Horrible Bosses more amusing and coherent than The Hangover. That's probably because at least half of the humor is derived from smart dialogue and its delivery rather than crazy sight gags.

Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis play men who have been friends since high school, who all find themselves saddled with unbearable bosses at the same time. While Bateman and Sudeikis make credible friends, it seems incredible that they would still hang out on an almost daily basis with Day's (Dale). Dale starts off as sweet and mild-mannered, but then becomes increasingly dumb and aggressive in perpetuating his stupidity. It's not that the movie was ever realistic from the beginning, but as Dale becomes less of a character and more of a plot driver, the story does suffer some. However, Bateman's straight-faced, unresponsive demeanor heightens almost every scene. Each deadpan line and expression enhance the other characters' funny turns.

The movie is much more fun to listen to than most of the Apatow-inspired fare out there. It was the most extraneous comments (as in a slightly contemptuous reference to Ethan Hawke, followed by Kurt defensively denying familiarity with Snow Falling on Cedars) that had me chuckling hardest.

Bosses also brims with entertaining cameos, Jamie Foxx, Donald Sutherland, Bob Newhart and supporting performances by Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey as two of the three "horrible bosses," but the star turn that most surprised me was Colin Farrell as accountant Kurt (Sudeikis') boss. With a potbelly and greasy combover, even though he was in several scenes, I did not realize that it was Farrell in the role until the very end credits. Amazing transformation.

Most of the ridiculous stunts left me cold, but I did find enjoyment in the small exchanges, as when Bateman tries to explain away his speeding away from a crime by telling the police he was drag-racing. In a Prius. The more disbelieving the cops are, the more placid indifference Bateman displays. Having someone underacting when every one else is over the top gives the action more punch. Perhaps this was Bateman's speciality on Arrested Development. I never watched the popular show and now I'm interested in doing so.

In the end, this movie was not a masterpiece, but it provided more genuine fun than most of the comedy box office hits that have been released lately.

I was left with one burning story question: Why did Dale think a classified ad for "wet work" was really offering hit man services? I've never known "wet work" to be a euphemism for assassination. Ah well, the confusion is resolved in a manner that's not quite as uproarious as the movie thinks. It's also much funnier when the disillusioned leads learn their would be assassin still uses a Sidekick telephone than when they get high vacuuming a cloud of fallen cocaine from the floor.
Still, overall the punchlines delivered more hits than misses.

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