2011 has been a quality year for comedy films. There have been great comedies that will find audiences on home video for years to come, mega blockbusters that will live in the now and hopefully die a painful death collecting dust on the shelves of those who buy into their hype, high-grossing R rated and family laughers, surprise hits, original films, remakes, the whole damn spectrum. Fan favorites like 'Super' made less than half a million bucks, while films no one will admit to watching like 'The Smurfs' raked in half a billion dollars worldwide. Everyone and their mother loved 'Bridesmaids,' and even stupid ideas like 'The Hangover II' pleased fans by returning to the formula that made the first insufferable film a success. It has been a high profile sink or swim kind of year, and it will be somewhat fun to catch up with all the ones that slipped through the cracks.
'Horrible Bosses' was one of the higher profile comedies this year, with its mega star cast and simple, relatable concept. That may have been a really cheap, horrific segue, but that doesn't mean it's not the bloody truth. This film aligns three budding stars (Jason Bateman, who has become a bankable lead in the last few years, Jason Sudeikis who I cannot stand but for some reason is getting famous, and Charlie Day who is one of the highlights of the superb 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia') with three established movie superstars (the inimitable Kevin Spacey, oft typecast Jennifer Aniston, and quasi-chameleon Colin Farrell), with a peppering of Jamie Foxx in one of his least annoying roles in years, and the end result is a film where there's perfect chemistry, where the many story lines converge nicely without any clash. It may well be the funniest film of the year!
You have three guys who cannot stand their position in life due to their manipulative, psychopathic bosses dominating them constantly, who decide enough is enough, to take a stand and take out the trash. It may start to get a little convenient as the film rolls on, but the bumbling trio obviously don't know a lick about murder, and their ineptitude opens the door for one of the zaniest films in some time, a rapid paced feature with so much personality and effective laughs that it's hard not to get wrapped up in the story and fall for its simple charms.
This is comedy done right. The three leads aren't over the top, perfect guys with instantaneous witty comebacks or brilliant ideas. They're genuinely frustrated beings who have what seems to be a wonderful friendship who just have one thing in common that drives them to the brink. The beauty of 'Horrible Bosses' isn't Bateman, Day, or Sudeikis, though, as the real driving force comes from the titular characters, who are so damned believable and perfectly cast for their parts that it's hard to not absolutely love them for the douches that they are.
Kevin Spacey is a great actor with a memorable filmography, with tons of high profile films, but I've always loved him for the role he plays best: the unapologetic asshole. No one can pull off this type of character quite the way Spacey can. You believe him in his role when he's berating everyone around him with his twisted, horribly manipulative manner and selfish nature. He's a great foil for Bateman's silent rage and sense of entitlement, as you genuinely can feel the frustration in the pairing.
Jennifer Aniston, my goodness. Imagine if ten years ago, she took on a role like this, instead of playing Rachel in almost every film she's been in, during and after her time on 'Friends.' You can't help but be sucked in by her seductress. She has the voice, the body, and the sex appeal for the part, and when you hear her talking dirty, my goodness is it effective. The way her lioness just pounces on Day throughout the entire film is a riot, even if it's completely unbelievable that anyone wouldn't want to throw down in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, Colin Farrell is the best coke fiend douchebag boss in history. You can feel the friction between him and Sudeikis, and you actually want to see him get what's coming to him. This is one of his juiciest roles, even if it doesn't edge out 'In Bruges' in terms of how convincing and hilarious the Irish actor can be.
'Horrible Bosses' executes its simple premise with ease, and simplicity, not branching off on unnecessary side plots that don't see resolution. This foul mouthed, crude little film feels so very genuine due to the proper development of the characters that it doesn't matter that the final act of the film, which has some of the best jokes, also happens to be a bit over the top and ridiculous in its convenience. The dialogue is natural, not high concept and stupid, you genuinely can sympathize and loathe along with the cast, and it's hard to imagine a better cast, save for replacing Sudeikis with anyone not named Galifianakis. After years of bad comedies or humongous letdowns, it's nice to have a film as good as its hype. This may very well be one of the must see films of the year. Whether you've had a horrible boss of your own or not, there's plenty of relatable material here to keep the laughs coming.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Horrible Bosses' is one of the weirder Blu-ray releases in some time. I'm familiar with the way that Warner-slash-New Line Cinema often make a cut of the film an exclusive to a combo pack edition of a film (see: 'Hall Pass,' 'The Town'), but it's not often that each cut of the film gets its own disc! Even stranger: some of the extras are exclusive to this release, yet they're found on the cut of the film that is not exclusive to this version. That means there are four different Blu-ray discs for 'Horrible Bosses,' considering the movie only edition, the two discs in this combo pack, and the inevitable rental version that probably removes the deleted scenes or throws more pre-menu content up. Insane!
Both Blu-ray discs in this set are BD50's that are Region A/B/C. This Blu-ray comes housed in a standard three disc case with a bonus DVD copy of the film, and also includes a Digital Copy, one of the, if not the, very first Blu-rays to have an UltraViolet DC, which operates as a download, not off any disc (and expires a full two years from now, which is a huge window!). The slipcover for this edition replicates the cover art beneath.
The cuts of the film are 98 minutes for the theatrical version, and 106 for the extended cut. The theatrical cut contains three dub tracks, while the extended cut is English only. Technical specs for both editions remain the same. This review will cover the quality of the cut exclusive to this set.
The "Totally Inappropriate Edition" of the film is presented with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode at 2.40:1, and the end result is really, really sweet.
Sharp details, fantastic picture depth, superb textures, close up shots that literally wowed me, it's all there. The disc features no black crush, no matter how dark a scene got, black levels that are pretty darned appropriate (with a little waver here and there), and superb edges. The picture sometimes has a little bit of noise, and the very random smoothness could be a sign of DNR, but it isn't enough to draw the eye like other releases have been.
This is a very solid transfer, not perfect, but full of wonderful, sharp moments.
The audio for 'Horrible Bosses' may be the only portion of this disc that left me saying "meh."
The lossless 5.1 track provided may be true to the film's intentions, with comedies often not receiving sound mixes that are none-too intricate, but there's just that something extra that becomes obvious in its absence as the film rolls on. Now, none of that is to say this is a bad sounding disc, because it has superb, crisp clean dialogue, perfect dynamics, and a few good bass and volume hikes, but there's no rear ambience, whatsoever. Or rear activity (tell that to Aniston's character, amirite?). No consistency, really. Large, crowded scenes fall flat. Crowded rooms hardly feel populated at all.
This is just textbook uninspired audio design, forever captured in its apathy in crystal clear high def, where you can definitely hear what's missing.
This release includes a DVD and an UltraViolet Digital Copy download code.
We've all had horrible bosses, ones we just couldn't wait to be rid of. I'd tell a few stories of my own, but let's just say having an employer who knows where you write doesn't open the door for any of them. Heck, if you haven't had one, you may want to go play the Lotto or something! 'Horrible Bosses' is a film that is very relatable, that is in line with the current world events and atmosphere, the general sense of desperation that makes everyone take more abuse than they'd like to from time to time. The idea of just being pushed past the breaking point and fighting back? It may very well be the modern American fantasy! This Blu-ray release is solid, with a healthy pile of extras, and two cuts of the film across two discs, making this a great two-for-one package, and an easy recommendation.