“Technically, I think it’s immoral not to kill him.”
As long as there are jobs to be done, there will always be bosses to answer to. Dealing with many is solid enough, while others inspire sickness and anger just at the thought of them. For Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), Dale Arbus (Charlie Day), and Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis), their thoughts of their superiors fall in the latter category. Nick’s boss (Kevin Spacey) is cold and uncompromising, Dale’s boss (Jennifer Aniston) continuously crosses the unwanted sexual line with no regard, and Kurt’s boss (Colin Farrell) is a jerk with no respect for his father’s company.
For what seems like every day, the trio meets at the bar to vent and think about how much life would be better without these extremely difficult characters. The thought of killing their head honchos is brought up in a hypothetical scenario, until it starts to crystallize into a plan. Employing the help of a hitman only known as “Motherf***er Jones” (Jamie Foxx), the friends set out to do what so many have thought of: Offing their bosses.
In what has probably been said millions of times, and will continue to be said by most who look at this film, Horrible Bosses succeeds in being worth the time and pretty hilarious because it is something many can connect to. Having someone you have to report to who is so difficult and disrespectful is almost a fate worse than death itself, and while there may be films that have featured complete pricks in power, none have truly went to the lengths that Horrible Bosses goes to. It almost is a wonder that a movie with this basic premise hadn’t been done earlier.
With stuff like this, the casting can really make or break the movie. In every role, each person fits into their character as well as could be desired. All of the three actors playing the tormented should be pretty familiar to comedy fans. Jason Bateman is one of the better straight men in the funny business right now, even-keeled and dry in both delivery and expression. Jason Sudeikis is the more cool person of the trio; witty and charismatic. Both play off of each other naturally and show a real sense of timing.
Charlie Day’s character of Dale rounds out the suffering trio, and to yours truly, he was sort of the odd man out and a mixed bag. He definitely has some funny moments without a doubt, but in many spots he feels like he is trying too hard to be funny by being loud and boisterous. True, his character is much more eccentric and over-the-top than Bateman’s or Sudeikis’, but he appears to ham it up more than needed. I’ll admit, I have never seen It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, to which I’m told his character in that shares some resemblance to the character he portrays here. If that is the case, it may just be very possible he is an acquired taste that I haven’t exposed myself enough to yet. Nevertheless, all three do a very solid job at getting the audience to side with them.
While these guys turn in good work, the scene-stealers are those who play the tool, the maneater, and the psycho on the movie’s poster. They, after all, have to be completely crazy and despicable for us to pull for the heroes and see these authority figures get their comeuppance. Colin Farrell is so visually distorted and totally gives off the feeling like he is on something whenever he shows up here, and Jennifer Aniston shows sides (and skin) never before seen in her previous work. Neither shows any hesitation in tapping into lunacy. Even Jamie Foxx, not a true boss in this but sort of if you think about it, gets back to his comedic roots for this one. He’s perfect in the short doses when needed.
These three deserve kudos for sure, but Kevin Spacey is brilliant here. It takes real ability to make an audience hate a character in minutes, if not seconds, upon seeing and hearing him speak. Yet, that is what Spacey is able to get across. His Dave Harken is a complete douchebag of a man; slimy and rotten to the core. His demands and the way he carries himself is a riot. He completely owns this role, and the movie seems to know this too as time goes on.
Under the direction of Seth Gordon, Horrible Bosses is definitely absurd and even ludicrous. But it is a comedy about killing bosses, which is as dumb as it sounds and it never forgets it. There’s no sappiness or sentimentality, from beginning to end everything here is played for laughs. It is paced pretty consistently, even in the final third. About the only part that feels disjointed is the ending. The tie-up was great, just out of sequence, as if it would have felt more resolute with a specific “story thread” ending the flick. How and who it ended with fell flat.
Still, filled with recognizable stars in non-recognizable roles, Horrible Bosses provides consistent and many large laughs throughout. The concept of an asshole for a boss is something many have been exposed to, and if the fantasy of offing (hypothetically) the man/woman in power has ever floated around in the brain, watching these characters’ desire to do should be a vicarious, consequence-free, and worthwhile option.
Photo credits go to aceshowbiz.com, ifc.com, and movies.about.com.
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