So, you’ve been working 16 hour days for years now, taking abuse and ducking your head to your corporate master because that juicy, juicy carrot he’s been dangling is just too sweet not to suffer for… and then he eats it himself.
Or the boss you really love, who’s like a second father to you even, promises in no uncertain terms that you’re going to have his job someday soon, running the company you both care deeply about… until he has a heart attack before putting it down on paper and the company instead goes to his cokehead son who is more interested in hookers and blow than saving lives in Bolivia.
Or, thanks to a really ridiculous interpretation of deviancy laws, you’re registered on the sex offender list and cannot get a job anywhere but as an assistant to a boss whose sole purpose in life is to sexually harass you into submission until you are nothing but her compliant love slave, doing her damnedest to ruin your relationship with your new fiancé in the process.
Think of these situations and wonder to yourself, “in your wildest imagination, would you like to kill your boss?” That’s the basic setup for Horrible Bosses, starring Jason Bateman (Juno, Smoking Aces) as Nick, Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as Dale, and Jason Sudeikis (Hall Pass, What Happens In Vegas) as Kurt.
Nick’s boss is Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, LA Confidential) who is your typical corporate goon, utterly unapologetic for taking advantage of his subordinate. Kurt’s boss is played by action and dramatic hero Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Miami Vice) in a startlingly convincing turn as a coked up dickweed, and Dale’s employer is the female dentist who doesn’t know the meaning of the word inappropriate, here played by Jennifer Aniston (Just Go With It, Along Came Polly)… and may I just say, she is entirely smoking in this role, more so that I have ever seen her before, which could be the point.
Anyway… Nick, Dale and Kurt start joking one night about how much their lives would be easier without their titular horrible bosses and plant the seed of the idea in their consciousnesses such that when the next blow is struck to each of them, they finally go over the edge and decide to off their respective banes. To do so, they enlist the help of Jamie Foxx (Law Abiding Citizen, Ray), whose name I’ll refrain from spelling out, as a murder consultant where they choose to emulate Hitchcock by attempting to kill each other’s bosses to divert any police investigation.
Eventually this leads what was already a black comedy down an even darker path filled with almost Three Stooges levels of incompetence on behalf of the would-be murders and a series of missteps that not only gets the attention of one of their targets, but turns the tables on our three heroes such that he comes after them. Honestly, the trailer pretty much spoils a good portion of the overall plot, so if you’ve seen that, the only surprises to be had are in who dies when and which stars of yesteryear are seen in brief cameo.
I’ll give you a hint as to the cameos… Backdraft and Elf. Now guess!
The movie is very formulaic in its plot (which is very predictable) and character development (which is almost nil). To be honest, there was more character development in either Hangover movie than our three bumblers get here, but the real appeal of the movie is in the gags. When considered purely on its comedic elements, be it the jokes or slapstick or situational irony, Horrible Bosses is a great film.
That being said, if you have any problem with foul language, you’re probably better off not seeing this movie as there didn’t seem to be a scene that went by where they didn’t deploy the f-bomb for full effect and multiple exposures. The dialogue definitely pushes the film’s R rating to the limits in terms of sheer usage, though it doesn’t quite have the exotic utilization that you might see in the films of a director like Kevin Smith or Judd Apatow.
Seth Gordon (Four Christmases) has really stretched his wings a bit here, putting together a pretty solid film, though I have to admit most of the movie’s greatness is owed to the quality of the cast that has been assembled. I think that the only scene that felt out of place was the first assassin audition which featured Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four, Black Hawk Down) as a “wetwork” man for hire.
In the end, if you’re looking for a hilarious no-brainer to cleanse your palette of all the failed action/adventure dreck that has permeated the summer movie season lately, you probably can’t go wrong with Horrible Bosses. It’s no Hangover 2 (or 1 for that matter), but you won’t be disappointed you came along for the murder-ride.
P.S. – Dale… you really should have just f#*$ed her.