The Canadian-Argentine-Columbian co-production The Boss (El Jefe) might have been a bit of a success in South America last year, but it’s about as welcome as the latest man-child offerings from Adam Sandler around these parts. A farce that’s desperate for laughs and devoid of anything resembling a consistent tone it’s almost unbelievable that any audience in the world would find this stuff funny. It’s just depressing.
Based on the novel Recursos Hermanos by writer Antonio Garcia Angel, writer-director (and former NFB documentarian) Jaime Escallon Buraglia’s pitch black reimagining of something reminiscent of The Office tells the story of Osorio (Carlos Hurtado), the manager of operations at a jam factory. Ruling with an iron fist and a loose set of morals that makes him think that sexual harassment and shooting at thieving employees with a .45 is an okay thing to do, he seems to be taking out his frustration with his emasculating home life on all those around him. Things begin to get complicated when Osorio begins an affair with his wife’s best friend and the deceased business owner’s son returns from the United States to oversee the company’s 50th anniversary just as the fed employees begin seeking revenge and looking to go on strike.
While Hurtado and the cast rise above the material to give mostly decent performances, the jokes are so limp and forced that you can watch the flop sweat drip from the pages of the already disjointed and poorly assembled screenplay. Instead of actually coming up with new ideas for workplace shenanigans (save for a running gag about an unseen squatter living in the basement of the building) there’s nothing new here as we watch Osorio simply harangue and duck his employees simply to keep the farce going. With not much new to latch onto, Buragila resorts to gross out gaga involving flatulence, baby poop, and some ridiculously unconvincing looking vomit, all of which add nothing making the comedic aspects of the film reek of despondency.
But the worst part of this endeavour has to be how it can’t decide if Osorio should be a sympathetic character or not. In textbook farcical fashion, the head tyrant doesn’t really learn much of anything, but one gets the sense after a while that Buraglia’s vision of Osorio’s dreary home life only exists to excuse or explain in some sick way just why he’s such a jerk. It’s a near impossible sell that the movie makes no effort to actually explain in any great detail. It’s dreadful in how inert the whole enterprise is and even more dreadful in how it has nothing to say about its misanthropic focal point, and without that, there’s very little reason to care what happens to anyone in this movie. It’s so dull in its desire to offend and provoke that it doesn’t warrant dwelling on it any further.