Horrible Bosses (R) ★★★½

Review Date: July 7th, 2011

It's a simple enough idea. Three friends with three fiendishly

terrible bosses let a little liquid courage help them down a dastardly,

yet not all that surprising road: kill the bastards. And as ridiculous as the idea behind Horrible Bosses is, as low-brow as much of the humor

is, and as hard as it tries (and fails) to ground itself in real world

issues, it still works. And when I say it works, I mean it's just really


At the film's center, we have Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) and their well, horrible bosses: Dave

Harken (Kevin Spacey), Bobby Pellit (Colin Farrell) and Dr. Julia

Harris, D.D.S. (Jennifer Aniston). In order for any of this potential

murdering to work, the film has to truly vilify this trio of bosses and

on that token, it succeeds almost too well. Spacey's terrifying

psychopath of a boss isn't exactly funny, though he did make me want to

crawl under my seat and hide. Farrell's cokehead kung-fu master is

probably the most surprising of the three, though he doesn't get nearly

enough screen time. And finally, we find Aniston, the woman who can't

seem to shake the term "America's Sweetheart," as the insatiable,

psychotic sexual deviant. I can't say Aniston will be able to get away

with this sort of thing in the future, but the shock factor of seeing

her flip her switch like this garners some laughs this time.

Of course, none of this would work without our hapless heroes.

Bateman does his usual shctick as the loveable, level-headed straightman

trying to keep himself afloat while the other two can't seem to stay

out of trouble. Sudeikis brings his deep-voiced frat boy antics to the

screen and while they normally don't do it for me, Bateman and Day

balance him out. Of course, when we get down to it, Day is the one who

steals the film. He's not exactly delivering the unbridled insanity

we've come to know and love on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but

that's only because in this film he actually plays a normal, functioning

human being. And when you combine Day's signature spasms and raspy,

high-pitched verbal fits with Aniston's overdrawn predatory practices,

you get a few bursts of hilarity, however uncomfortable.

Finally, we get a few chuckles out of Dean ''MF'' Jones

(Jamie Foxx), but the actor himself was completely wasted. The character

simply rests on the idea that we know Foxx as a personality outside of

the film -- much like Aniston's character does -- rather than actually requiring

any legwork from such a capable onscreen presence.

But there's a little method to this madness; without this giant cast of talented major players, the

script itself would likely fall a little flat. A few wayward jokes drag

it down, including a desperate attempt to connect this workplace issue

to the financial crisis by including a former Lehman Brothers employee

rendered so desperate by his circumstances that he trolls Applebee's

offering sexual favors. The movie succeeds as a superficial, goofy

comedy – it really has no place trying to nudge its way into real world


Of course, there's one thing I find incredibly refreshing about the flick ; while it certainly has the typical trio formula – the straight

man, the smartass, and the nutjob – it gives all three equal billing.

Nick isn't the main character and his two friends aren't his sidekicks.

Director Seth Gordon opens the film with three segments of equal length

wherein each peg of our trio takes a moment to explain their own

personal slice of daily hell with a particularly hilarious brand of

explicit language before the film gets down to business. It makes Nick,

Kurt, and Dale a true trio and gives weight to each of their cartoonish

tribulations as the film's punctuated pace eventually descends into complete insanity.

You probably won't add Horrible Bosses to your list of classic

comedies and it certainly doesn't merit extensive praise, but the bottom

line is that despite a few overreaching elements, it's just a

fast-paced, outrageous, hilarious summer comedy. And really, with a film

like this, that's all we're hoping for anyway.

Hollywood.com rated this film 3 1/2 stars.