Horrible Bosses

Monday, 29 August, 2011

3 stars

The premise

Horrible Bosses (trailer), a black comedy, is the latest feature of US film director Seth Gordon. The screenplay is based on a script written by Michael Markowitz, working in conjunction with writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, and also incorporates certain of Gordon’s past workplace experiences.

Three friends, Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale Arbus (Charlie Day), find themselves in different places when it comes to job satisfaction, but after joking that killing their bosses would be the only way to make their jobs more bearable, they indeed find themselves plotting their managers’ demises.

The play

Nick’s boss, Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), is a psychopath who expects him to put in long hours, and work weekends, in a bid to win a long promised promotion, only to pull the rug from beneath Nick’s feet in spectacular fashion by appointing himself to the role he had been hinting would eventually be Nick’s.

Dale meanwhile works for a sex-addicted dentist, Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston). Despite the fact Dale is engaged to Stacy (Lindsay Sloane), Julia continues to pressure him into sleeping with her. Of the three, Kurt is the happiest with his boss, Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland), who almost treats Kurt as if he were his son.

Things change very quickly for Kurt though after Jack is killed in a car crash, and his drug-addicted son, Bobby (Colin Farrell), takes over the business. Bobby has no interest at all in his father’s company, and whiles away the day getting high with call girls, who he brings into the office no less, while making life especially miserable for Kurt.

With the economy in the grip of recession, and work hard to find, the three soon decide that the only way to make their jobs less miserable is to kill their bosses. They locate a would be hit-man, Dean “Mother F***er” Jones (Jamie Foxx) who says he will help, and then the trio set about planning “accidents” for each of their bosses.

The wrap

“Horrible Bosses” has its moments, and at times can be very funny. The portrayals by Colin Farrell as the sleazebag Bobby, and Kevin Spacey as the bullying task-master Dave, are especially good. Often though Nick, Kurt, and Dale’s excessive bouts of indecision and ineptitude, despite their comical intent, can be grating in the extreme.

Of the three bosses, Spacey’s Dave is probably the most recognisable, and real world, while Aniston’s Julia is more caricature than anything else. But focus on a particular outcome and sometimes events will take their own course, while you stand by watching. Yes, surprisingly, there are a few pearls of wisdom lurking within “Horrible Bosses”.

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Up in the Air

Thursday, 28 January, 2010

4 and a half stars

The premise

Up in the Air is director Jason Reitman’s adaptation of the Walter Kirn novel, about Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) who works as an always-in-the-air travelling “termination consultant”.

The conditions, flying business class, staying in the best hotels, and regularly bumping into charming – though mysterious – fellow travellers such as Alex (Vera Farmiga), compensates – at least as far as Ryan is concerned – for the unpleasant task of firing people.

The play

Ryan’s only real aim professionally – and personally it seems – is to clock up ten million air miles, something his ceaseless work is gradually bringing about, as he criss-crosses the US telling his client’s employees their services are no longer required.

When business management graduate Natalie (Anna Kendrick) arrives on the scene with ideas to conduct the culling process online, Ryan not only feels his livelihood threatened, but also the long-held goal of achieving of his air travel milestone.

The wrap

While Ryan may be expert when it comes to precision packing his bag, or discharging his duties, he is however ill-equipped to deal with the emotional ups and downs of his family and colleagues.

But while may he sometimes feel his existence is as empty as the spartan apartment he calls home, when it comes to life choices there’s no doubting it’s a case of different strokes for different folks.

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State of Play

Friday, 5 June, 2009

4 stars

I thought State of Play‘s early face-off between old school newspaper investigative journalist Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) and up and coming political blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) might have made for a tension filled drama in its own right, instead the producers opt for a serving of espionage, bribery, and political corruption inside the US congress.

I (paradoxically) share McAffrey’s contempt for the word “blog” however.

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