Horrible Bosses 1 & 2
Horrible Bosses (July 16/11)
An affable, entertaining comedy, Horrible Bosses follows three friends (Jason Bateman's Nick, Charlie Day's Dale, and Jason Sudeikis' Kurt) as they conspire to kill their unpleasant employers (Kevin Spacey's Dave Harken, Jennifer Aniston's Julia Harris, and Colin Farrell's Bobby Pellitt) - with the trio's failed efforts at hiring a hitman forcing the men to murder their bosses themselves. (Wackiness, of course, ensues.) Director Seth Gordon has infused Horrible Bosses with a lighthearted, briskly-paced sensibility that proves instrumental in immediately capturing the viewer's interest, with the charismatic performances - Bateman and Sudeikis are especially personable here - going a long way towards perpetuating the film's pervasively watchable feel. The movie also benefits substantially from the inclusion of several laugh-out-loud gags and comedic set pieces, although it's clear virtually instantly that the movie is at its best in its smaller, subtler moments (eg Nick attempts to feign an illness by inducing vomiting). There's little doubt, however, that Horrible Bosses' momentum is sporadically affected by the needless inclusion of aggressively over-the-top elements, with almost everything involving Aniston's character emblematic of the screenplay's periodic penchant for unreasonably broad shenanigans. This is admittedly a rather minor complaint for what is otherwise a consistently engaging piece of work, and it ultimately goes without saying that Horrible Bosses fares much, much better than many recent so-called comedies (eg Bad Teacher, Bridesmaids, etc, etc).
Horrible Bosses 2
Horrible Bosses 2 follows Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day), and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) as they're forced to once again engage in felonious behavior, with the narrative detailing the guys' efforts at swindling a callous businessman (Christoph Waltz's Bert) and his son (Chris Pine's Rex) out of millions of dollars. Although the law of diminishing returns is in full effect here, Horrible Bosses 2 boasts an affable atmosphere that ensures it remains, for the most part, quite watchable - with the natural chemistry between the movie's three stars playing a key role in its mild success. It's clear, too, that the film benefits substantially from the efforts of its strong supporting cast, with, in particular, Pine delivering an agreeably smarmy turn as the narrative's central villain (ie the actor seamlessly abandons his clean-cut, good-guy image to become this seriously reprehensible figure). And while filmmaker Sean Anders packs the proceedings with several laugh-out-loud instances of comedy - eg the protagonists adopt increasingly ludicrous accents while making a phone call for ransom - Horrible Bosses 2 suffers from a flabby midsection that's compounded by an emphasis on obviously improvised bits of silliness. The movie does, as a result, flounder to a noticeable degree in the buildup to its action-oriented finale, and it's ultimately difficult not to wish that Anders had exercised a little more control and discipline over his actors - which, in the end, confirms Horrible Bosses 2's place as a decent yet slightly underwhelming comedy sequel.