What would you do if you were subjected to frequent and systematic abuse by your employer? Probably file a complaint and think about litigation. Not in the world of 'Horrible Bosses' where Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis decide that the only way their life is going to get better is by killing their respective intolerable employers.
What follows is a slightly twisted mash-up of the offbeat humour of 'Office Space' and the sinister nature of 'Swimming With Sharks' - influences that the filmmakers have made obvious by casting Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey. Spacey oddly plays essentially the same role here as he did in 'Swimming With Sharks', with similarly catastrophic results.
In spite of the sense of self-plagiarism, the acting is actually a rather significant positive for the film - each of the bosses deliver impressively distasteful performances, with special mention for Aniston and an almost unrecognisable Colin Farrell. The main buddy trio also contribute the majority of the laughs with their awkward, moronic banter.
Unfortunately, the comedy isn't quite as prominent as it should be. 'Horrible Bosses' tries too hard to be over-the-top and ridiculous - Exhibit A: Jamie Foxx appears as the trio's "murder consultant" called Motherfucker Jones. So-called because his real name is the same as one from a Disney film, which is terrible for his street cred. Seriously weak.
Not nearly as weak as the ugly moment when Jennifer Aniston's character calls Charlie Day's dental assistant a "faggot" for rebuking her continual advances. It's arguably permissible in this contextual use to evoke further dislike of her character but it's still a lazy shortcut to use such a word. Not that 'Horrible Bosses' exactly strives for character development at any point in the film.
It's also something of a shame that the atypical notion of sexual harassment in the workplace isn't seized upon in a more serious manner at least once during the film. One of many missed opportunities. It's these kinds of issues that mean the more I think about 'Horrible Bosses', the less I like it. But while watching it, I was actually having an enjoyable time.
The smattering of laughs and chemistry between the main characters drive the film onward amidst the lunacy of plot. It's all a bit foolish - 'Horrible Bosses' isn't as clever as it thinks it is, much like the central trio of underlings - but it ends in a rather satisfying manner.
Not as funny as 'Office Space' nor as affecting as 'Swimming With Sharks' but appealing enough if you're a fan of the R-rated comedies along the lines of 'The Hangover' and 'Bridesmaids'.
'Horrible Bosses' is on wide release throughout UK cinemas now.