Following in the footsteps of successful R-rated comedies of late, Horrible Bosses pieces together the slimmest of stories, hoping to ride the coattails of its actors and improvisation to a profitable box office. Gathered for your amusement are Jason Bateman (the everywhere-these-days straight man), Jason Sudeikis (continuing his role from Hall Pass), and Charlie Day (the manic, hamster-ish fellow from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), a group of long-term buddies intent on ending their occupational miseries by ending their bosses.
The premise is skimpy, but relatable – who hasn’t dreamt of offing a particularly demeaning, demanding, coke-headed, or super-sexually aggressive (with the goods to back it up) superior? Well, relatable except for that last one. What seems a ripe field of riffing for the actors to play around in quickly becomes claustrophobic by the script’s unnecessary adherence to the plot., Rarely are the three leads allowed to create Web Gems of their comedic chops; instead they come dressed as backdrops for the higher-billed bosses to humiliate. Most of the film’s shining moments come from Day, a rousing surprise for those not familiar with his work on It’s Always Sunny… He effortlessly swings from endearing romantic to vengeful maniac yet still manages to keep the audience believing in him and hoping for him to prevail, even if it a little murder is involved.
One-liners and setups in Horrible Bosses get close to the edge of raunchiness and taboo, but never leap over it. Audiences are now attuned to hearing and seeing the grossest punch lines known to man – especially when tagged with an R rating – and Bosses fails to deliver what its predecessors have promised. If one is looking for laughs and grimaces in a comedy, Hall Pass is an overlooked surprise that doesn’t shy away.