The moment Jason Sudeikis drops his bosses phone in Jason Bateman’s bosses house, potentially framing their superior’s in some sort of cocaine related triple homicide, it becomes apparent that Horrible Bosses could be a modern Hitchcockian cum Jerry Zucker hit. Instead, despite it’s robust premise of killing three villainous bosses, the film shies away from following through with it’s bombast concept. Any signs of a whip-smart conclusion fade with the general direction of the film. Suddenly it’s no longer about three men killing their bosses, but trying not to get killed themselves (it’s not as cat and mouse as it sounds, either).
The leads, although distinct enough in their comedic style and delivery, are all essentially playing the same character; working men at a middle-aged crossroads crisis, hampered by ‘the downturn’ (a requirement, apparently, for all male characters this year). Jennifer Aniston isn’t at all bad in her tête à tête with Charlie Day, but their excuse for giving up on murdering her is lazy (a quick shag with Sudeikis and her libido will be forever satisfied?) Kevin Spacey is at home playing the sadistic taskmaster in a breezily apt fashion, but much like his fellow bosses, lacks sufficient character development. Day provides the most laughs of all, if you’re partial to juvenile comedy, particularly during his coked up rendition of the Ting Tings. Bateman, as loveable as he might be, needed to stop playing Michael Bluth about four years ago.
There are enough risible moments in Horrible Bosses to keep it ticking over, but hopes for a satisfyingly smart crime caper are sadly spurious. The film’s whimper-not-a-bang resolution is worth sticking with just for Day’s closing monologue. The sharp cut to the credits leaves you on a high, helping you forget that you were mis-sold the film in the first place.