Formula: Three regular guys in jobs that have turned for the worse. Reason? The title. The plan? Eliminate said bosses. Problem? These guys don’t have a clue.
Each has their own fault, Nick (Jason Bateman) too burdened by his boss to do anything other than go with the flow. Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) blabs too much, revealing plans or spilling information. Dale (Charlie Day) is too enthusiastic, energetically hiring a hit man on Craigslist who turns out to be anything but.
Horrible Bosses loves that R-rating. Director Seth Gordon (who even gave his King of Kong alum Steve Wiebe a role) pushes the ranting and the antics to infuriate every MPAA member watching. Good for him.
The three soon-to-be non-masterful killers give Horrible Bosses a base of reality, their respective corporate overlords lapping up their chance to demolish credibility in exchange for laughs. Jennifer Aniston pushes away that good girl image as a savagely predatory sexual deviant, blackmailing Dale with her advances. Spacey hams it up as a boss who promotes himself, Colin Farell only a step down as the crack inhaling son of the former owner.
Part of it comes from necessity, the audience needing to relate, and still remain sympathetic to the trio’s plight. Any way out is clogged, heading into the plan as master criminals based on Law & Order episodes. Miscalculations galore ensue, sending their plan spiraling out of control, and suddenly Aniston’s character feels written off without a glance.
The screenplay is credited to three writers; probably without surprise the end result feels a bit chaotic. Then again, toss in three of Hollywood’s leading funny men, and improvisation ups the chaos quotient too. This extended cut tacks on about eight more minutes of shenanigans, not necessary although certainly funny. Horrible Bosses embraces what it is, raunchy and offensive in the extreme, the pay off satisfying even if it’s not a clean escape.
Captured with the Panavision Genesis, this digital effort via Warner’s AVC encode feels excessively noisy and even murky. Few scenes go by without some interference, low light or bright never an exception. Horrible Bosses adores the bar scene, those darkened hang-outs rife with artifacts. In comparison, the walls of Kevin Spacey’s office are loaded with scattered noise, odd for the typically pure Genesis.
All of this dampens the hi-defyness (?) of the presentation, honestly turning it into a bit of a dud. Fine detail feels pressured to performed, eeking out a sub-par existence that just drains the energy of this comedy visually. A handful of close-ups will look striking, for some reason most of them being Spacey, while the rest fall flat. Definition is not a hallmark of this raunch-fest.
It’s not that soft, a slightly bloomy contrast and deadened blacks sapping whatever kick this one might have had. That makes it appear to be lacking crispness expected from the best cameras Hollywood can buy, well, that and the plethora of swarming digital artifacts. The whole thing is just clumsy, sort of like if Warner fell back into their old VC-1 low bitrate routine, although it’s the opposite problem here. This is all on the source.
Thankfully avoiding the overbearing orange flesh tones of its modern comedic counterparts, Horrible Bosses doesn’t reach for the coveted color crown either. Why should it if it’s not going to impress elsewhere anyway? Flesh tones are natural, and environments waver between warmly tinted or a deeply cool hue. At least there’s some contrast happening here.
This one even flounders another potential technical achievement with its DTS-HD audio mix. Ah, but before you scream out (in an internet kind of way) that comedies aren’t destined for audio supremacy, you are in the wrong good sir and/or madam. Horrible Bosses comes preloaded with a potentially boomy finale, a car chase through the streets of wherever this movie takes place, the whole thing featuring a few steely clashes of fast moving vehicles. The subwoofer never finds a way to relate.
Tracking is precise, engines passing to the stereos as they see fit, the surrounds engaged to pinpoint motion as required. That’s all well and good. Cars slamming each other at speeds clearly above the posted speed limits? That should be impactful. Horrible Bosses doesn’t compute that.
Oddly with a blaring DJ/jukebox in the background with the bars, the soundtrack will find plenty of reasons to launch itself into the low-end. Patron chatter is still evident, a clean balance creating a pleasing environmental. Why the rest of this design can’t seem to grab hold and play nice is a bit of a mystery. Still, you’re probably right. If the dialogue is kickin’ (and it is if “kickin’” is still a thing), that’s all Horrible Bosses needs.
As mentioned before, the disc comes with the extended cut, six extra minutes worth of fluff that slow things down, but up the laugh quotient. Fair trade. Seven deleted scenes run a bit longer than 10-minutes, including some alternate openings. Four meager featurettes are lacking in real content, beginning with My Least Favorite Career. Here the cast dives into their personal work-related tragedies for a few minutes. Surviving a Horrible Boss is sort of a making-of, although a lackadaisical one at best at six minutes.
Being Mean is So Much Fun lets the villains of the piece have their say on their roles. Making of the Horrible Bosses Soundtrack is actually longer than the movie making-of, which makes no sense. It just comes off as a promo.