Horrible Bosses (2011)

2 Mar


Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Horrible Bosses” does indeed feature three horrible bosses—bosses that go beyond the very description and just venture into dreadful people entirely. There’s a sadistic psychopath, a vicious sexual predator, and a coke-addicted tool. Those are the three “horrible bosses” of three underappreciated friends who would like nothing more than to kill them and end their misery. And “Horrible Bosses” is a movie with that very premise.

Cheerfully macabre, “Horrible Bosses” is an effectively comedic version of “Strangers on a Train,” and also following 1987’s black comedy “Throw Momma From the Train” (both films are mentioned by the characters in this movie). The guys want to kill their own bosses, but they realize that they each have their own motives. So they all agree to kill each other’s bosses instead of their own.

And trust me—these bosses are horrible people indeed. You have to praise the casting on this one. While the writing of the characters’ descriptions are suitably horrid in their favor in the screenplay by Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan Goldstein, the casting of the bosses must be given as much credit for bringing them to life and making us love to hate them. Kevin Spacey plays to his strengths as a disdainful sadist who loves to mess around with his middle manager Nick (Jason Bateman). Jennifer Aniston plays against type as a sexy dentist who wouldn’t know the meaning of sexual harassment if it came onto her as much as she does with her nervous (and married) assistant Dale (Charlie Day). Colin Farrell, a handsome guy who allows the makeup artist to make him look as repulsive as possible, plays Bobby, the cokehead son of Kurt’s (Jason Sudeikis) beloved employer (Donald Sutherland) who unfortunately dies at the beginning of the movie.

Nick, Dale, and Kurt don’t know anything about killing while covering up their tracks, and they’re not as sophisticated as they pretend to be. So they go to a rough bar, where they hope to hire someone to help them out. They come across someone they think is a hitman (whose name has undoubtedly inspired the MPAA’s R rating), played by Jamie Foxx. It’s his idea to have them swap murders. But first, they must do some reconnaissance, which involves breaking into their houses to find weaknesses of the bosses. Most of the laughs around these three come from bumbling about and only occasionally (and accidentally) doing something right.

Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis are reliable comic actors (though Day can occasionally become obnoxious and unbearably annoying), but their characters are not particularly well-written. The characters aren’t developed properly and there isn’t a great deal of chemistry among the three (mainly because Day has a tendency to make things a bit awkward). But they are individually funny enough for us to laugh at them, as well as sympathetic enough for us to root for them.

The final half is when things really start to heat up. Without giving too much away, things get even more sadistic, and funnier as well, as the Spacey character becomes less of a sadistic jerk and more of a psychopathic unstable mind. Spacey really sells it here.

“Horrible Bosses” has a good amount of gleefully vulgar moments, a few cheerfully stupid moments, and slick evil performances from Spacey, Aniston, and Farrell that makes for a funny hard-R-rated comedy. The movie has a wicked energy in its situation comedy that results in some big laughs. And who can look at Jennifer Aniston the same way again after seeing her as her crazy bitch of a character?

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