by James Hansen
There are several scenes in Seth Gordon’s Horrible Bosses in which the main characters, Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), Dale (a painfully unfunny Charlie Day), and Nick (Jason Bateman), scream at each other while driving around in a car. Trapped in this environment, their voices create a cacophony of screaming (Sueikis), squealing (Day), and mild-mannered whining (Bateman). It is a messy collision of noise, the likes of which is fairly typical in buddy comedies. Nonetheless, it manages to seem egregious, not to mention particularly symbolic, of the Horrible Bosses’ pitfalls.
Gordon places three comedic styles in a car, turns up the volume, and hopes for magic. However, Sudeikis, Day, and Bateman consistently perform completely different styles of comedy. While this may create some chaos for the inept, scantily-written characters and the obnoxiously obvious storyline (“We were just joking the other night when we were talking about killing our bosses, right?), there is no comedic sense from the mini-ensemble. Save the brief, pleasant turns from Colin Farrell as a coked-out boss’s son and Jamie Foxx as suspiciously uninformed hitman, the only thing that comes out is cobbled-together, tone-deaf clutter.
Further destroying the case is perhaps the film’s major “buzz item” – Jennifer Aniston’s supporting role as Dr. Julia Harris, a sex-crazed dentist. Only slightly less disparaging than message board and blog discussions of whether Aniston will or won’t show her boobies is her actual performance. Pitched via the screenplay as an extra-textual cry for attention from an “aging and sexless” actress, Julia is so desperate for sex that she performs a striptease in order to hook up with someone who stalks her from a parked car outside her apartment. (This someone is the ladies man, Kurt, who teaches the important lesson that every woman is just waiting for an anonymous man to screw them). The rampant sexism and homophobia are the ultimate insults in a movie that absurdly relishes in them.