The film is unimaginative as the title. Borrowing the central conceit from Strangers on a Train the director has the bad sense to include a mention of both this and Throw Momma from the Train. This acts as a startling reminder that you could be watching something more worthwhile.
Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) each, as you may have already suspected, are experiencing serious problems with their employers; Kevin Spacey plays psychotic, Colin Farrell a coke-snorting arsehole, and
a dangerous nymphomaniac. Taking the advice of one Motherfucker Jones (Jamie
Foxx) the three of them decide to do a switcheroo, each murdering the boss of one
of their friends.
Just one example of the lack of imagination involved in this production is its use of How You Like Me Now by The Heavy. The song was something of an unofficial theme for David O. Russell’s instant classic The Fighter which makes its appropriation here not just uninspired but impotent. But perhaps that’s being picky. The main problems are in what lacks: originality, characterisation and laughs.
There is very little chemistry between the three leads or even a shred of evidence as to why they are best buds. The ever-reliable Bateman does his best with a poor script, Sudeikis is poorly cast (ladies man? I don’t think so) and Day’s amateurish performance is so annoying I very nearly switched off. There are worse comedies but I’m struggling to remember the funny bits. I feel it’s a wasted opportunity, particularly in its use of the three villains. Nice to see Aniston playing against type, and to see Spacey in a comedy but neither are really given the chance to shine. A brilliantly-styled Colin Farrell barely gets a look in. Possibly because they are so underused we’re not given enough reason to hate them. And for a film involving adult themes such as sex and drugs it’s very lightweight. If you’re using these elements in the first place you might as well go for it and not hold back. As a result, Horrible Bosses never delivers the necessary darkness for a supposed black comedy.