Directed by Seth Gordon
Written by Michael Markovitz, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Great poster campaign for US releases.
It’s a dude movie, or rather, it would be if the three dudes were several years younger. The sub-genre is three-dude. The plot … stop me if you’ve heard this one before … involves three guys with nasty bosses. They plan to murder them, but to avoid detection, they aim to murder each other’s bosses. Last time around, this plot idea was three women planning to murder their husbands. It was funnier.
So what’s the pitch on this? The bosses are all played by established stars: Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston. The American poster lists the bosses as Psycho (Spacey), Maneater (Aniston), Tool (Farrell). The stellar cast may not be as expensive as it sounds. Apart from one ten second scene, the bosses never share a screen. Donald Sutherland does a bit part (as a guy with a violent cokehead son) but his screen time could have allowed shooting in a day: one interior, one adjacent exterior, no costume change.
You start to wonder what possessed the actors to take the roles of bosses. Having seen Spacey only weeks before as a monumental stage Richard III, I’m grateful that this screen role probably financed that. He’s a powerful presence as a nasty, in spite of a creaking plot. He’s almost as nasty as Richard III. Farrell deserves praise because we didn’t even recognize him as the crazed cokehead son. Aniston? You’d think she could easily afford not to take on scripts like this. Maybe her ego likes being a sex symbol. She’s an aggressively nymphomaniac dentist, hitting on her poor little squeaky voiced male dental nurse (Charlie Day). Her section is (extreme) sexual harrassment in the workplace, and Day the victim. We know there are sexually aggressive female bosses, but the percentage where it’s the other way around must be way over 95%. That’s what’s supposed to be funny. Day’s squeaky protests work.
The ageing dudes are Jason Bateman (who works for Spacey), Charlie Day (who’s hit upon by Aniston), and Jason Sudeikis (who works for Farrell). Day does the dumb part, the dude the other dudes take the piss out of. Bateman narrates the start and end is the central figure. Sudeikis is the big strong one who just wants to get laid. The notable bit part is Jamie Foxx as “Motherf*cker Jones” who acts as their murder consultant. Foxx’s explanation of how he got the first name is hilarious. They think he’s a hit man because he’s done ten years in prison. In the bit that made me laugh loudest, he later reveals that his ten year sentence was actually for video piracy. And stares at the audience. He was trying to pirate … Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the dig (and the threat) at video pirates. Great scene. Great lines.
The full credits run for pages. This sort of comic movie usually appears from left field (The Hangover) before becoming a big hit. This one has big budget, established stars from the start. The fact that the biggest stars never meet allowed economy. Publicity pitched it against Bridesmaids, but it’s nowhere near that good.
In the end, it’s like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra jumping in to record Beatles cover versions in 1964. However skillfully they performed , and however pleasantly easy it is to sit through it, the liveliness and adrenalin of new guys on the scene just isn’t there.