Anyone who works and is not self-employed or independently wealthy must answer to a superior commonly known as the boss. Like all human beings, bosses come in various shapes, sizes, and temperaments. Those who get along with their bosses are lucky, but what about the unfortunate souls who harbor an intense dislike for the person who signs their paychecks. Must they just suffer along and continue to be miserable every day at work, or is there an alternative for them? If you are among the mistreated minions at the mercy of an ogre, you may find the answer to your problem in “Horrible Bosses,” a refreshingly different, naughtily raunchy, and often irresistibly funny comedy featuring a terrific ensemble cast.
As its title promises, “Horrible Bosses” is the story of three guys who have the misfortune of working for absolutely intolerable bosses. For eight years Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman) has been arriving at work in the dark and leaving in the dark in the hopes of landing a promotion to the position of senior vice president of sales for the Comnidyne Corporation. Nick’s boss is Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), an arrogant, self-serving snake who makes life and work miserable for his employees.
Then there is Kurt Buckman (Justin Sudeikis), who is line to take over his company because the owner (Donald Sutherland) really likes him, but when this good boss dies, his evil son, Bobby Pellit (Colin Ferrell), inherits the business, and Kurt’s job suddenly becomes a living hell.
Finally consider the case of dental assistant Dale Arbus (Charlie Day). He is happily engaged, but Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), the dentist for whom he works, is a flaming nymphomaniac obsessed with seducing Kurt. And the more adamant Kurt is about refusing to drill her, the more aggressive the good doctor becomes.
All four of these fellows have reached the proverbial end of their respective ropes. After weighing their various alternatives, they reach the only reasonable solution to their problem. They will kill their bosses.
During their discussion, Dale expresses his concern by saying, “I don’t care how much we hate our bosses. We’re not murderers.”
But Kurt shoots that argument down when he says, “You’ve never heard of justifiable homicide? It would be immoral NOT to kill them.”
Now that the guys have decided what to do, they must figure out how to do it, and the obvious answer is to hire a hit man. Enter Dean “Mother Fucker” Jones (Jamie Foxx), who agrees to tutor our timid trio in the fine art of murder. What follows is a madcap romp of bungling attempts to dispose of the three boses.
Anyone who is offended by the copious use of obscene language should avoid this film, but those who aren’t, are in for a lot of fun because this is a prime example of what “The Hangover Part 2” is not – a raunchy comedy that is funny.
One of things making the film work so well is that the chemistry among Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day is superb, and all three actors have an outstanding sense of comedic timing. The conversations they have when they are planning their strategy and their meeting with the would-be assassin they hire all are very funny.
Remember, however, that the title of this film is “Horrible Bosses,” and if it weren’t for stellar performances from Spacey, Aniston, and Ferrell, the movie could have been a disaster. But all of them are so convincingly despicable that you can really understand why their employees want them dead. In the film’s production notes, Spacey offered an interesting analysis of his own character and a perceptive comment on his fellow-boss characters.
“You can’t even give him (Harken) the benefit of the doubt, or think for a minute that he’s being tough in order to teach a lesson or encourage his employees to try harder and bring out their best. There are no underlying strategies that might redeem him. Harken is just a bully. He’s a terrible, terrible person.
“The three of us who play the bosses really back these three friends into a corner, and I think audiences will completely understand why they’re driven to kill us. Fortunately, everything they set out to do doesn’t go the way they plan in any way, shape or form. They make the worst decisions ever.”
Of course, it should come as no surprise that Spacey and Ferrell fulfill their respective roles well. Spacey is particularly effective in the part of a bastard, and Harken’s reaction when Nick tells him that he worked so hard that he missed his grandmother’s funeral is one of the cruelest and funniest things I’ve ever seen, and it’s a tribute to Spacey’s brilliance as an actor.
The real shocker for me in this film, however, is Aniston’s portrayal of the lustful dentist. She has a tendency to make every part she plays a variation of Rachel from “Friends,” but that certainly isn’t the case here, and in the production notes, Aniston admitted that this was unlike any role she’s ever had.
“I’ve never played a character so inexcusably raunchy and there was no way I could resist it — the dialogue and the situations are so outrageous and fun. I jumped at it immediately. The movie is a guilty pleasure for people unhappy in their jobs, to maybe go and get it out of their system by rooting for these guys. It really stretches the limits and crosses boundaries and Dr. Harris is way out in front on all counts: guilty as charged.”
“Horrible Bosses” (Let’s give it a final score of seven.) may offer vicarious retribution to those who hate their jobs, but even if it doesn’t accomplish that, it should make them laugh. Those who go to see it should be forewarned that the language is very rough, but when you watch how these bosses treat their employees, you can certainly understand why they are pushed to brink of resorting to dropping myriad F-bombs as a way of expressing themselves. And at least the film delivers some laughs that will keep it from being regarded as just another horrible comedy like “The Hangover Part 2.”