Hot on the heels of the foul-mouthed Bad Teacher — not to mention Bridesmaids and The Hangover Part 2 — Horrible Bosses hits theaters this weekend, the latest in a string of R-rated summer comedies. The murder-the-boss workplace flick stars Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, and Charlie Day as a trio of beleaguered friends who plot revenge on their abusive supervisors — played by Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, and a sexed-up Jennifer Aniston. How does Horrible Bosses measure up to its raunchy predecessors? (Watch a trailer for the movie.)
It fails to live up to its potential: The problems with Horrible Bosses "can be enumerated with a prim scowl and wagging finger," says A.O. Scott at The New York Times. The film is "noisy and preposterous," and only "expectedly" raunchy and vulgar. It's also "frequently very funny." As a comedy of errors — particularly during a scene in which Sudeikis and Day accidentally get high — Bosses is an "endearing" film built on its characters' "hysterical ineptness." But too often, the comedy "flirts with racism" and veers into misogyny and homophobia, thus thwarting its "sheer silliness."
"A treatise on issues of the workplace. Not."
"But it won't ruin your Saturday night": "Horrible Bosses is a lot funnier in theory than in practice," says Andrew O'Hehir at Salon. But it's still enjoyable. The movie is at its best when chronicling Sudeikis, Bateman, and Day's "Three Stooges misadventures." Spacey plays his boss-from-hell character "deliciously," and Aniston is also funnier than ever. Sure, the film may be "virtually indistinguishable" in a sea of "sub-Judd Apatow white-boy comedies," but, bolstered by a talented ensemble and few choice sight gags, it's "pretty solid entertainment."
"Horrible Bosses: Hostile work environment"
It might even be the highlight of your weekend: Seeing everyday people behave badly is one of the best "comedy pleasures," says Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly. Having those characters played by movie stars, as in Horrible Bosses, make those laughs "so much the better." This movie is just the right mix of "outrageous," "raunchy," and "reassuring." It may be Sudeikis, Bateman, and Day who launch a "comedic assault" on their bosses, but it's the audience who "reaps the employee benefits."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- Why is the Pentagon stuffing caves in Norway full of tanks?
- The most sensible GOP alternative to ObamaCare comes from a Senate candidate who is almost sure to lose
- When Khomeini said no to Iranian nukes
- 10 things you need to know today: October 23, 2014
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
Subscribe to the Week