In describing the recent spate of gross-out comedy films, the term "black comedy" has been over-used to the point that it really doesn't have a meaning anymore - or at least, its definition has been changed to suit the folk who write the little blurbs we find on the back of DVD covers.
REVIEW: In the case of Horrible Bosses, the term - which originally described humour that was funny even in the face of a hopeless situation such as death (a man is brought before a firing squad and offered a cigarette before he dies, but replies "no thanks, I'm trying to quit") - doesn't really apply.
I guess it's being used to describe how the humour in the film is derived from the situations the characters encounter; for example, one funny scene finds Nick (Jason Bateman) and Dale (Charlie Day) high on drugs after accidentally inhaling some during a break-in. But that tactic isn't noticeably different from any other comedy film.
Dispute over the term "black comedy" aside, Horrible Bosses is a pretty funny film. Nick, Dale and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) make a pact to kill each other's bosses in order to straighten out their stuttering careers - Nick wants his boss dead so he can get that big promotion, Dale wants his sexually-charged boss to stop harassing him, and Kurt wants to get rid of a guy who doesn't care about the company he loves and has been part of for many years.
Bateman, Day and Sudeikis are all strong comedic actors who manage to get the most out of a script that could have failed in lesser talented hands, perfectly capturing the spirit of three guys who are in way over their heads, bumbling their way through break-ins, shootings and stakeouts.
A strong supporting cast helps, especially Jennifer Aniston, who plays against her rom-com persona as a sexually devious dentist; it's probably her best performance since the early 2000s.
The presentation is nice too, with a nice 1080p picture accompanying a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track, which sounds great despite an under-use of surround capability.
While not as wild as a gross-out comedy like Bridesmaids, Horrible Bosses makes up for its more straight-forward laughs with a clever storyline and a great cast. Though be warned: going after your boss probably isn't worth the hassle.
Horrible Bosses: Totally Inappropriate Edition
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell
Special Features include: Featurettes: My Least Favourite Career, Surviving a Horrible Boss, Being Mean Is So Much Fun, The Making of the Horrible Bosses Soundtrack; Deleted Scenes
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars