Ever want to kill your boss? Nick, Dale, and Kurt plan to do just that three times over.
Never aiming to be anything more than a barrel of laughs, Horrible Bosses takes advantage of three comic actors working at the top of their collective games and gives them a wacky story that will resonate with viewers. And even though its satirical edge is tempered by slapstick gags, the movie will employ viewers’ funny bone without challenging them to think too deeply.
In Bosses three working stiffs, over a few beers too many, hatch a diabolical scheme to rid the earth of their awful employers.
The long-suffering Nick (Jason Bateman) has been kissing butt for the better part of a decade. His boss, Dave (Kevin Spacey), is easily the most ruthless of the three featured foes, but he’s also the most true to life. Dave’s the kind of company president who posts a job opening for a vice president that motivates his employees to work toward the promotion, only to fill the job with himself. It would probably be in everyone’s best interests if Dave visited the fiery hereafter.
Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell) didn’t start out as Kurt’s (Jason Sudeikis) boss. But when Bobby’s father (Donald Sutherland) dies, Bobby takes over, much to Kurt’s horror. Obviously, the world would be a better place without him.
Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Anniston) is Dale’s (Charlie Day) over-sexed boss. Her nymphomania is enough to make even Jennifer Anniston, adorned in little more than a lab coat, look unattractive. Because Dr. Harris takes a liking to most anything with an erection, she’s made it her mission to land the nerdy Dale before he weds his adorable fiancée. Dale can’t continue to be harassed in this fashion, can he? The nymphet has gotta go.
Part of the fun of Horrible Bosses isn’t the outcome but the hilarious set up. The movie manages to cohesively mix elements of Office Space with Nine to Five, and throws in dashes of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and colorful references to Throw Momma from the Train for good measure. Everyone is in on the joke. And the talented cast all play their roles well, with occasional flashes of truly inspired humor. There are lines of dialogue that will stay with you and reaction shots good for more than few hearty chuckles. And where The Hangover Part II felt it necessary to go wildly over-the-top with gross-out gags and crudeness, Bosses maintains an “R” rating without making you want to take a shower after watching it.
While Sudeikis (from “Saturday Night Live”) and Day (co-writer and one of the stars of TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) come from the comedy school, Jason Bateman is an actor first and comedian second. All three possess excellent comic timing. In fact, the outtakes that roll during the closing credits are almost as funny as the jokes in the movie itself. These guys are just naturally funny and likeable guys, which helps sell the film even as it loses focus during its madcap conclusion.
The supporting cast is impressive, boasting two Oscar winners and a “Friend.” And Colin Farrell even sports a bad comb-over while stealing every scene he is in. It is a performance reminiscent of Tom Cruise’s memorable turn as super-producer Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. And you really have to hand it to Jennifer Anniston. As the wicked Dr. Harris, she shows off her 40-something body with pride while delivering a vampish performance that makes you almost want to be working under her. Jamie Foxx’ character provides the hapless trio with murder advice. This is a very funny side of Foxx, who’s covered in various tattoos and offers up some of the film’s best laughs.
Horrible Bosses is an entertaining romp that gives its fine comic cast a chance to be funny without devolving completely into mean-spirited low comedy or meaningless camp.