Horrible Bosses (2011)
Horrible Bosses (2011)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.

Release Date: June 8th, 2011 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Seth Gordon Actors: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Julie Bowen, Donald Sutherland

 


 

A

satisfyingly humorous premise and likeable characters keeps “Horrible Bosses” entertaining for an admirable stretch of the picture, but the energy and hilarity steadily run out as the film barrels towards the expected conclusion. The comedy elements do succeed thanks to the variety and timing of the talent at hand, though the styles of the three leading men tend to clash more often than they derive exponentially funnier gags. The “horrible bosses” also start with evil exuberance, but their potential feels squandered. Regardless of its shortcomings, fans of any of the primary actors won’t be disappointed to see them revel in a diverse mix of verbal, physical, and situational comedy complemented by the refreshing role-reversals of many of the supporting characters.

Nick (Jason Bateman) hates his deceptive, manipulative boss Dave (Kevin Spacey). Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) abhors his selfish, immoral manager Bobby (Colin Farrell), and Dale (Charlie Day) loathes Julia (Jennifer Aniston), his superior who delights in sexually harassing him. When the three friends reach their breaking points, they decide to remove their terrible bosses permanently. Hiring shady “murder consultant” Dean “MF” Jones (Jamie Foxx), the trio plans to kill each other’s employers to avoid any traces back to their respective subordinates – but the unprepared friends quickly find their scheme falling apart.

When a film takes a serious idea, such as murdering despicable employers, and depicts the ordeal as outrageously farcical, it’s best not to call attention to realism. At one point, Dale talks his way out of a precarious police situation by discussing technical aspects of the law – educated by what he witnessed on “Law and Order.” In the following scene, however, the cops do the exact opposite of what procedure would have dictated, had they been genuine officers from the aforementioned popular TV show. Considering much of “Horrible Bosses” is purely fictional, goofy hijinks, it could have been easily dismissed had it not been for Dale’s explanation. If the outcome is going to be anything but realistic, why define these characters in the real world of DNA evidence collecting, arrests, and consequences?

Fortunately, the basic plot is just clever enough to win over the few missteps and failed points of execution (including voiceover narration by all three leads). The motive is universally understandable and relatable – a plot ripe for situational buffoonery. The simple solution of finding a new job is quickly dismissed thanks to a crass joke, failing to locate a hitman for the mission is particularly amusing, and watching the ineptitude exhibited by the three half-wits reveals plenty of opportunity for laughs.

Jason Bateman yet again plays the straight man that garners chuckles for being the voice of reason; Charlie Day is the loose cannon that is over-the-top and dramatically hysterical (playing Dale exactly as he plays Charlie on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” – a casting decision presumably based entirely on that role); and Jason Sudeikis is the dispensable additive to balance out a comedic threesome – increasing the number of bosses positively, but sadly not adding much to the protagonist formula. Jennifer Aniston is the highlight of the film, cast against type and considerably enjoying a chance to be raunchy, naughty, and bawdy, while still providing laugh-out-loud moments and the means for an emphatic, satisfactory conclusion. It’s not high art, nor does it possess the sharp wit of “Duckman” (writer Michael Markowitz’ most stimulating TV series), but it’s a decent way to spend a couple of hours.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10