You Can't Win A Marathon Without Putting Some Bandaids On Your Nipples: Horrible Bosses (2011)

I am often wary of Hollywood big budget comedy, as it is often recycled humor and politically correct jokes that assert no sort of risk to viewers sensibilities.  I had heard a few murmurs of Horrible Bosses being something entirely different and exceptionally funny.  I entered the movie theater with a fair amount of skepticism and continued to hold this feeling through much of the film.  Then something happened, the movie became hilarious and grew a pair of comedy legs that I was not expecting.  To my surprise Horrible Bosses turned out to be a brilliantly humorous film that I kept discussing with my friends long after leaving the theater.  I am not certain whether it was the clever pairing of three contemporary comedic actors or the fact that some of Hollywood's biggest names were debasing themselves in the name of comedy, but it was an excellent and refreshing romp in all things funny and even revived my belief that every once in awhile a good movie can come from a big budget studio and still make me laugh.

Seth Gordon's film is, as the title suggests, about having a really shitty boss, which proves to be the case for three buddies whose experiences compose the film.  The first being Nick (Jason Batemen) whose boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) is psychotic and overly expectant of his employees, particularly Nick who he claims to be prepping for a senior VP position.  Harken berates Nick for every action including being late by two-minutes, despite coming hours earlier than his co-workers.  Next there is Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) who has an excellent relationship with his boss, until he dies of a heart attack leaving his coked up son Bobby (Colin Farrell) in charge.  Finally, and perhaps most humorous, is the recently engaged Dale (Charlie Day) who is constantly harassed by his boss the overly-aggressive cougar dentist Julia, played half-heartedly by Jennifer Aniston).  The trio is shown multiple times fretting over their futures whilst getting drunk.  It is during one of their drunken stupors that the group decides to off their bosses, but given that the three are off white, middle class sensibility, they decide to approach an urban neighborhood with the hopes of finding a hit man.  It is during this excursion that they meet Dean "Motherfucker" Jones (Jamie Foxx) who suggests that they simply kill each other's bosses, removing the possibility of motive from the situation.  Without giving away a rather well thought out and executed plot it is safe to say that the attempted murders do not go as planned, leading to humorous relations between the trio, each of their bosses and the innocent bystanders involved.  Fortunately, for the group the problem is resolved, with a relatively light amount of bloodshed, allowing each person to achieve his ideal job, free of a horrible boss.

The film is both funny and terribly problematic, an issue that often emerges with comedy.  The most blatant issue is the inherent "whiteness" of the film.  Nick, Kurt and Dale are all white, middle class males whose disdain for their bosses appear to be their only worry.  They apparently have unlimited amounts of money given their constant presence at a corporate restaurant in which they spend heavily.  The film ignores the fact that many people are genuinely unemployed and would desire a job, even if the working situations were not ideal.  I felt the commentary of removing oneself from employment rather insensitive, especially given the abysmal state of employment in the United States at the moment.  Furthermore, the group attempt to hire out a person who is from the lower class and black to do their dirty work, implying that illegal work and undesirable work is in some way attached to race and class.  The other issue is the films "maleness" as it relates to the character of Julia, whose aggressive sexuality is indicative of male fantasy.  Dale is ridiculed for complaining about being harassed by his boss; despite having a legitimate reason for concern...he loves his fiance and does not adhere to patriarchal ideals of sexual conquest.  While sexual harassment certainly happens to both men and women, it is far more a concern of male domination over females, an issue that is completely ignored in the film.  If the roles were reversed, the film would have been a drama, not a comedy.  The issue is that by mocking Julia's sexual aggression the film desensitizes viewers to the very serious issue of harassment in the workplace.  It is a problem that is never addressed and perhaps the biggest flaw in the film.

Social criticism aside, Horrible Bosses is a genuinely enjoyable comedy.  I would highly recommend catching it while it is in theaters.  Bring some friends, but be mindful of the liberties the film takes, because they are at times very problematic.

No comments:

Post a Comment