- Movie Rating -

Horrible Bosses (2011)

| July 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

Horrible Bosses is a crude, foul-mouthed but only moderately funny comedy that follows in the same road as other workplace revenge fantasies like 9 to 5 and Office Space. Like those films, it follows three mid-level, put-upon functionaries who decide to get revenge on their bosses, however, I must confess that it isn’t as clever as the 9 to 5 nor as funny as the Office Space. It is a well-made comedy, but not exactly something that you’ll remember a month from now.

The three functionaries in this case are Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), nice guys who live in a nightmare of corporate idiocy.

Nick (Jason Bateman) works in a financial firm under company president Dave Harkin (Kevin Spacey), an overbearing, unreasonable bully who, despite Nick’s eight years of loyal service, passes him over for a promotion that he gives to himself. He even knocks down the wall of the office next to his in order to make space for his new position.

Dale (Charlie Day), works as a dental assistant under a D.D.S. named Julia (Jennifer Anniston) who is such a nymphomaniac that she likes to have sex on top of her patients who are under anesthetic. Dale, who doesn’t want sex with Julia because he’s engaged, can’t file a sexual harassment claim because he recently got tagged as a pedophile because he was caught urinating while drunk in an empty kiddie playground in the middle of the night. His defense: “Who builds a kiddie playground next to a bar?”

Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) works for a chemical company under the tutelage of a good-natured boss Jack Pellitt (Donald Sutherland) and his obnoxious coke-head son Bobby (Colin Farrell). When the old man dies of a heart attack, Bobby becomes President of the company, leaving Kurt to be his second-in-command. Bobby, a drug-user, just wants to milk the company for profits by cutting back on safety regulations so he can feed his habit and fill his office with prostitutes. His coke habit has made him paranoid, so his first act as President is to order Kurt to fire several employees simply because they have minor annoyances like pregnancy and physical disabilities.

The guys could probably solve their individual problems with legal action, but being in a recession leaves them desperate to keep their jobs. One night over drinks they begin a hypothetical conversation over whether or not they would have the nerve to kill their bosses if there would be no consequences. This turns into ideas with real applications and pretty soon they find themselves seriously planning to murder their bosses.

Their first stop is a bar in the ghetto to find a hitman (which they find by asking their on-board navigation system). The search unearths a pretty convincing thug named Dean M.F. Jones (Jamie Fox) – I’ll let you figure out what the intials stand for – who agrees to help with the dirty deed for an asking price that they find suprisingly negotiable. What follows is one of those all-nighter one-damn-thing-after-another comedies that involves the guys sneaking around in their boss’ houses, planting evidence without leaving DNA. They unearth this notion because they have seen a lot of “Law & Order”. What is abundantly clear is that they aren’t exactly skilled in the murder game and even less skilled at blackmail. When you’re trying to leave a clean crime scene, why would you give in to the temptation to stick your boss’ toothbrush where the sun don’t shine?

Character-wise Horrible Bosses works, especially when it comes to the bosses themselves. Kevin Spacey, who played a horrible boss before in the little-seen Swimming With Sharks, expands on that character by playing Dave Harkin as a gleeful sadist who embraces his God-complex and regards his employees as insects. He has a manner of regarding Nick with a gleefully evil disregard. Colin Farrell is also good as an annoying addict with an even more annoying comb-over. But the real surprise is Jennifer Anniston as a sex-mad shark who toys with Dale and makes sexual demands so outrageous that at one point she requests that they have sex on the unconscious body of his fiance. Anniston has, up until now, always played nice girls but here she tries something new and she seems to be having a ball.

Plot-wise, the movie comes up short. It is crude and vulgar and sometimes very funny but it never really gets as clever as it could be. As bizarre and strange as the bosses are, the heroes never quite match them. The ultimate conclusion to the revenge sequences leaves the bosses with their just desserts but it also leaves you wishing that the screenplay were really swinging for the fences. The ending is satisfying, but kind of ho-hum.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2011) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy