Rating: 3 out of 5
More amusing than hilarious, this silly comedy at least has moments that make us laugh out loud as its plot gets increasingly ridiculous. And the solid cast members really throw themselves into each scene.
Nick, Kurt and Dale (Bateman, Sudeikis and Day) are three friends who like their jobs but are tormented by their evil bosses (Spacey, Farrell and Aniston, respectively). When they decide they can't take any more abuse, they decide to do something drastic, hiring an inner-city hitman (Foxx) with an unprintable name and then trying to find key information about their bosses that they can use to bump them off. And of course nothing goes to even their pathetic attempt at a plan.
Clearly the cast is having a lot of fun here, and the mood is infectious. Of the three bosses, Spacey's aggressive back-stabber is the most convincing, while Aniston's sexual predator and Farrell's coke-fiend are more humorously cartoonish. But all of them are so, yes, horrible that we can see why these hapless guys are at the end of their rope. We sympathise with their frustration and even their persistent ineptness, although the lack of any real character definition keeps them from properly engaging our interest.
That said, director Gordon brings some sequences together with a sharp sense of physical slapstick and subtle comical touches. The caper-style scenes are deeply contrived, but packed with funny jokes that catch us off-guard. And there's a strong sense of camaraderie between Bateman, Sudeikis and Day that gives the film a solid centre even as it continually goes for cheap laughs, random throwaway punchlines and corny plot turns.
But the real problem is the complete lack of irony. The premise is ripe for black humour and cynical wit, and yet the script and direction resolutely remain on the surface, afraid to really confront the omnipresent violence or sex while dodging any real sense of what's at stake for these three guys. It wouldn't have been too difficult to add some shadings to the bosses or to stir in some earthy subtext. But clearly the filmmakers weren't interested in challenging their audience; they just wanted to make us laugh.
Facts and Figures
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Friday 8th July 2011
Box Office USA: $117.5M
Box Office Worldwide: 117
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: New Line Cinema, Rat Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 142 Rotten: 64
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Cast & Crew
Director: Seth Gordon
Screenwriter: Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley
Starring: Jennifer Aniston as Dr. Julia Harris, Jason Bateman as Nick Hendricks, Charlie Day as Dale Arbus, Jason Sudeikis as Kurt Buckman, Colin Farrell as Bobby Pellitt, Jamie Foxx as Motherfucker Jones, Donald Sutherland as Jack Pellit, Lindsay Sloane as Stacey, John Francis Daley as Carter, Kevin Spacey as Dave Harken, Julie Bowen as Rhonda Harken, Meghan Markle as Jamie, Steve Wiebe as Thomas, Head of Security, Michael Albala as Mr. Anderton, Jennifer Hasty as Kurt's Co-Worker, Reginald Ballard as Kurt's Co-Worker, George Back as Kurt's Co-Worker, Barry Livingston as Kurt's Co-Worker, Donald Sutherland as Jack Pellit, Celia Finkelstein as Margie Emerman