Much to the chagrin of readers I opted not to make Zookeeper the movie of the week. I have already said all that I can say about Kevin James when I called him the worst movie maker in Hollywood. So this week I saw Horrible Bosses. I left feeling like I did when I saw Tropic Thunder. There were many funny lines and moments, but at the end I just felt like I hadn’t seen a very good movie, but rather a collection of funny lines (so I guess the screen writers still get solid credit). Moreover, the film feels like a movie made in an alternative universe: a universe where Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis went back in a time machine to about 5 years ago and murdered Luke Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Dane Cook, respectively, and took their places in a movie they were destined to make.
The movie’s plot is fairly simple. The three main characters have awful bosses who range from evil (Kevin Spacey) to sleazy (Colin Farrell – very funny in limited time) and the excessively hot and manipulative (Jennifer Aniston). They agree to murder their bosses for each other, while being “coached” along by murder consultant Motherfu*ker Jones (Jamie Foxx) – they got more laughs out of me from that name then I am proud to admit. Goofiness ensues and it is wrapped up neatly in the end (which is becoming the trend in comedies now – rather than allow a plot to develop naturally and have to write an additional 15 minutes, recent comedies seem to just have something extremely convenient occur with five minutes left so the movie can end. Bad Teacher felt the same way). But what I really found fascinating is how the stars of this movie, especially Bateman and Sudekis have rendered their immediate predecessors in Hollywood (Luke Wilson and Dane Cook) wholly irrelevant by being better versions of those guys.
Jason Bateman a/k/a/ R.I.P Luke Wilson
Ever since his comeback in Arrested Development, a/k/a greatest television comedy of all time, Jason Bateman has proven how funny the straight man can actually be. While being the foil for wackier characters in both the show and subsequent movies, he has proven that the straight man can sometimes be the funniest guy in a scene, not just the victim of funnier people. Which is why he is a huge improvement over Owen Wilson, who, most famously in Old School, played the funny straight man, simply because he was the straight man. He had to do no heavy lifting with Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell doing all the crazy work. But Bateman has changed the straight man role – rather than be a QB that just manages the comedy game, like Wilson, Bateman is both a game manager and a playmaker. Sorry Luke.
Jason Sudekis a/k/a a Midwestern Dane Cook with more range
A friend of mine had recently sent me a text making some comparison between Dane Cook and Jason Sudekis. It was not very complimentary and I did not understand the association. But while watching Horrible Bosses I realized that Sudekis is literally a bigger Dane Cook. Sudekis, who I believe is from Kansas, literally comes off as the larger, Midwestern cousin of Dane Cook. And sadly, for Dane Cook – he is having a lot more success. The thing is Sudekis can play the guy who is sort of a goober (Hall Pass) or a semi-ladies man (Horrible Bosses). Cook came in like gangbusters with roles as the “cool guy” because Hollywood forgot to tell him that handsome and cool in comedy is a lot different than handsome and cool in Hollywood. And bonus – Sudekis probably has someone advising him to not to make five shitty movies in a row if he wants to have longevity.
I think the only hope for Wilson and Cook is that they can become the Josh Lucases to Bateman and Sudekis’ Matthew McConaughey.
So the movie is solid because of the decent number of laughs, but by no means spectacular. If you catch a matinee you’ll get your money’s worth.
Final Grade – B