‘Horrible’ Indeed

‘Horrible Bosses’ isn’t funny enough; plus the latest Woody Allen film.

By Lori Hoffman

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 3 | Posted Jul. 13, 2011

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'Horrible Bosses'

Horrible Bosses

is a sloppy 
film that wants to be an edgy black comedy but doesn’t come close to pushing the envelope enough. However, its worst sin is not being nearly funny enough. There are a few sporadic laughs to be had, but the promising premise of planning to murder the horrible bosses of the title isn’t executed with sufficient wit or style.

Jason Bateman works for an evil SOB played by Kevin Spacey. Charlie Day is the dental technician sexually harassed by his boss, played by Jennifer Aniston. Jason Sudeikis goes from a boss he likes to the coke-head jerk played by Colin Farrell.

You can’t blame them for alcohol-infused plans to murder their bosses, including the decision to look for a killer by using a car navigation device to find a bar where criminals hang out. That they are directed to a bar full of African-American patrons is a racist touch without enough of a humorous payoff to negate the tastelessness, despite the efforts of MF Jones (Jamie Foxx) to rip them off for their stupidity by offering to be their “murder consultant” for a fee.

For the premise to really work, you have to like the poor slobs stuck in these dead end jobs who decide murder is a better solution in this economy than quitting their jobs and going out in the open market. Bateman has the likeability factor and Day manages to wring his fare share of amusing moments as the man terrified of his sexually obsessed boss. Sudeikis, however, comes off as a creepy sexual predator himself.

On a brighter note, Spacey really gets into the spirit of the premise. He makes the notion of premeditated murder look like justifiable homicide as he does some very bad things, which just happens to be the title (Very Bad Things), of a much better black comedy with a similar premise of nice guys who find themselves in nasty circumstances. 

Horrible Bosses is a soft, lukewarm comedy.

Woody in ‘Paris’

Woody Allen is making movies in Europe these days, not completely by choice. He revealed in an interview at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival that, “I work on a very small budget and it went further in London. I just finished a film in Paris. I love filming in New York and I’m sure I will make more films in New York, but right now it is easier for me financially to work in London or Paris or Barcelona.”

The film he made in Paris came out recently, Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams. Wilson plays a successful Hollywood screenwriter named Gil who is trying to prove he can do more substantial work with his first novel. Engaged to a woman, Inez (Rachel McAdams), who loves her comfortable lifestyle, they are visiting Paris. Gil is enchanted by the city; Inez is enchanted by the shopping opportunities.

One night Gil goes walking and when midnight strikes, a vintage automobile drives by and offers him a ride. That ride takes him back to the Paris of the 1920s where Hemmingway (Corey Stoll) is talking about courage and manhood, where Cole Porter is playing piano, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are flitting about and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) provides an open house for guests like Pablo Picasso.

Gil is enchanted by his golden opportunity to visit the golden age of the City of Lights. He falls for Picasso’s beautiful mistress Adriana (Cotillard) and with Stein’s encouragement rewrites his novel into a presumed masterpiece.

Sadly, this movie made me want to go back in time to a glorious period in New York City in the 1970s and ’80s when a filmmaker named Woody Allen ruled the movie world with films like Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Midnight In Paris is but a weak copy of Allen’s earlier, better films, and while I enjoyed the cameo appearances by Bates, Stoll and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali, Wilson and McAdams seemed fatally miscast. I didn’t care enough about their characters to be emotionally invested in the story.

Allen keeps proving in his later years that inspiration has passed him by.

Horrible Bosses

Directed by Seth Gordon; rated R

Midnight in Paris

Directed by Woody Allen; rated PG-13

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Comments 1 - 3 of 3
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1. Anonymous said... on Jul 16, 2011 at 11:48PM

“With regard to Midnight, you completely missed it. If you couldn't identify with Owen's character and thus become emotionally invested then you either identified with Adams' character, the antithesis of his character, and felt slighted by the scathing satire or you couldn't identify with any character which means your probably just boring as an individual. Owen had a more evolved self awareness then those around him in present time which made their disdain for his attitude an ironic conflict. Nevermind.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jul 17, 2011 at 09:48AM

“CRAZY!! Horrible Bosses is so fricken funny! IMO...better than the Hangover 1 and 2.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Sep 15, 2011 at 03:10PM

“The problem with "Midnight in Paris" is that when you jam-pack a film with cameos of historic people you have a duty to briefly encapsulate who they were and what they represented. The more historical cameos you use, the less time you can spend on them, the briefer and more stereotypical your portrayal of each historic person becomes. That's what Woody Allen did. He ended up creating a parade of paper-thin synopses of historic people instead of fleshed-out characters. ("Picasso? Painter and bad to women". "Hemingway? Really intense guy, obsessed with war, women and drink, talks just like he writes in his novels".) The movie could have benefited from
some 3 dimensional characters to relate to, since the comedy was rare and the possible drama was avoided, leaving not much in between.
"Midnight In Paris" is Woody Allen's "show and tell". It would have been more impressive coming from a ten year old.”


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