Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Donald Sutherland, Ioan Gruffudd
Synopsis: Three friends each have a boss that is ruining their lives. Nick (Bateman) works for psychotic slave-driver Harken (Spacey), whom keeps him in line with false promises of promotion. Recently engaged Dale (Day) is constantly fending off unwanted sexual advances from boss Julia (Aniston). Kurt (Sudekis) has a dream job until his boss Jack (Sutherland) passes, leaving his incompetent coke-head son (Farrell) in charge. Each employee has reasons they cannot leave their position, so on the advice of shady Jones (Foxx), they hatch a plan to kill each other’s bosses.
This is a film that relies on the fact that everyone understands the hell that can be pressure from one’s employer. The true joy of this film is that it is a set-up of such absurd extremes that it maintains a fantastic humour ratio throughout. These bosses are so terrible, that never once is there room to stop to think that maybe they do not deserve what is coming to them. This is also aided by the fact that our three leads are so incompetent at crime themselves that the results of their efforts are delightfully absurd.
Surprisingly, the result is a film with six very watchable, entertaining lead actors. Bateman plays Nick as the reliable everyman, a role that he played so well in Arrested Development. Sudekis’ Kurt often gets the friends into trouble as he is more interested in attractive females than the task at hand. Day’s Dale is the weak link of the group, prone to making the biggest mistakes and causing trouble. Of the three heroes, Day’s does get a little annoying at times, but this is forgivable as he often also provides the biggest laughs.
All the bosses are also uniformly brilliant. Arguably they have the more fun job at playing really extreme psychopaths. Spacey has a ball as clearly the caricature of the classic slave driver. Farrell gives his best performance in years as the coke-head lothario, fully admitting to bleeding his father’s company for his own ends. The stand out of these three for me though was Aniston. Finally, she plays a role about as far away from her Friends origins as she could get, and she nails it. When it comes to the line of sexual harassment, she well and truly passes it, and at times it is a very brave, extreme performance, but it works really well in context.
A successful comedy can be a difficult goal to achieve. To often in modern cinema are all the best gags already shown in the trailers, and these are tacked on to an overall predictable plot. Finally, that is not the case here. It probably helps that a lot of the humour is for mature audiences, hence a lot could not easily be included in the trailer. Yet, not only does this film maintain a good rate of hilarious gags, but never once can you predict what will happen next. This has to be the best comedy of the year so far.
4 stars out of 5