Monday, July 14, 2014

Awesome Writing in Media, Part 3: Horrible Bosses

Okay, bear with me on this one.  I've decided to jump around a bit and will, instead of solely focusing on individual writers in this series, also focus on works as a whole.

Also, just so you don't feel obligated to stop reading, I won't spoil any of the movies or other media for you. Promise. Or, at least I'll try not to.

Hopefully none of these, so rest easy.
That doesn't mean I won't talk about the plots or characters, but I'll try not to give something away that would ruin the movie(s) for people.  On the other hand, if there's a movie (or its source material, if it was based on a book) that's been out for a long time, all bets are off.  People whining about Martin Freeman "spoiling" something in one of the Hobbit movies are ridiculous...that plot point has been out for seventy-something years.  Suck it up, buttercup.

Anyway, onward!

Honestly, Horrible Bosses wasn't a movie I initially had high hopes for.  Sure, I knew it would be entertaining--the cast includes Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, and Charlie Day among other notables--so when it came out and we got it on Netflix, I was looking forward to seeing it, but was expecting your standard comedy.

How wrong I was.

Now, this post, as are all of the posts in this series, is just my opinion, but I enjoyed Horrible Bosses far more than I thought I would, and that was due just as much to the amazing writing as to the great performances by the cast.  Was it a perfect movie?  No, of course not, but it was a smart, well-written  comedy.  And in the current movie climate, that is a rare thing indeed.

What was so good about it?  The cast, for one, deserves a lot of credit for their kick-ass performances, but the writers made it all happen.  The premise of the movie is that three guys each have a boss that makes their lives absolutely miserable--so they figure out that they'd be so much better off if the bosses weren't around anymore (in the dead sense).  See, it would have been so easy for the writers to phone in a script where the characters were flat and boring and made the illogical--and extreme--jump to murder to get their lives back.  But it's far more than a case of "Ugh, my boss is annoying." "So is mine!"  "And mine!" "Let's murder them!"  One of the main things that stands out about the script is how well-rounded and justified the characters are.  Each one of them--the bosses and our heroes--are shown in the beginning of the movie so we see exactly how each of the characters' lives are impacted by their, well, horrible bosses.  These hard-working folks are being slowly driven crazy by these people, and we, the audience, buys it hook, line, and sinker.

I like to say that with writing--any kind of writing--the audience or reader needs to identify with the characters or believe the story they're reading or watching could happen, even a little itty bitty bit.  Sci-fi, comedy, romance, action--doesn't matter.  If the audience doesn't buy into it, your movie or book is dead in the water.  And even though each of the bosses in this movie are caricatures, between the three there will be a tiiiiiiny bit of a supervisor you, the viewer, have had at one time, and that's enough.  You're in and along for the ride. 

Oddly, nothing feels forced about the movie.  Sure, some of the scenarios are ridiculous, but it's a comedy, and my suspension of disbelief never felt like it was about to snap.  The way everything ties together at the end is satisfying and, again, that's credit to the writers.

Will all of this hold true for the sequel?  I have no idea; it's a rare sequel that can recapture the magic of the original.  I guess we'll have to find out.  In the meantime, if you're looking for a fun, well-written comedy, check out Horrible Bosses.

Have you seen it?  What did you think?  Was the writing above-average for a comedy nowadays?  Have you seen one that you thought was far better?  Tell me!

xoxo Sarah

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