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HORRIBLE BOSSES
Author: JoAnne Hyde
July 8, 2011
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SYNOPSIS: For Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), the only thing that would make the daily grind more tolerable would be to grind their intolerable bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston) into dust. Quitting is not an option, so, with the benefit of a few-too-many drinks and some dubious advice from a hustling ex-con (Jamie Foxx), the three friends devise a convoluted and seemingly foolproof plan to rid themselves of their respective employers... permanently. There's only one problem: even the best laid plans are only as foolproof as the brains behind them.

Still not so sure about the title, but HORRIBLE BOSSES is a riot! The preview audience laughed continuously and applauded at the end. Sure it follows this year’s pattern of super-crude, bawdy comedies, but it boasts the strongest cast of all. Warning: those “sensitive” viewers who are always cautioned not to watch those medical/forensic television shows would be crazy to see this film. But for the rest of us, it’s a wild ride into zaniness. I knew guys would love it, so I decided to interview members of the toughest group to please with this kind of film: middle-aged ladies! Yes, there were quite a few of them in attendance. I talked to about three groups of ladies, estimated ages 30-something to 50-something, and I was a little bit surprised to find that they all loved it. Not a faint heart in the bunch!

If you’ve seen the trailers for the film, you know that it’s about three men, Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day), and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) who are tortured and tormented daily by their bosses. They ultimately decide to have them killed, and that’s when the misadventures begin. So it’s a little bit THE HANGOVER, and a little bit OFFICE SPACE. No one gets roaring drunk, but they behave as foolishly, and talk as crudely, as the guys in THE HANGOVER. And they are surely the most incompetent criminals since the would-be money launderers in OFFICE SPACE. If you recall, the dudes in that film resorted to looking the term “money laundering” up in the dictionary. When a magazine salesman who they think is a crack-head, shows up at their door, they try to pump him for information only to find out he’s an unemployed software engineer. The counterpoint of that character in HORRIBLE BOSSES is “Mother-f***er Jones,” played hilariously by Jamie Foxx. Nick, Dale, and Kurt think he’s a hit-man, but I’ll leave it you to discover his true “criminal” past.

Now for those bosses! All three are over-the-top raunchy, but Jennifer Aniston wins the prize for raunchiest of all. She’s always demonstrated impeccable comic timing, but she exceeds herself here as Dr. Julia Harris, DDS -- not only the employer of Dale, a dental assistant, but his constant sexual harasser. Aniston usually plays the lead in sweet, romantic comedies, “chick flicks” if you will, but here she pulls out all the stops as the sexual predator who likes to “feel-up” and talk dirty to Dale as he protests that he’s engaged and tries desperately to get away from her. She also looks great in all of the revealing outfits she uses to seduce, well, anyone who’s willing. It’s a truly surprising -- and great -- performance.

Kevin Spacey plays Dave Harken, a seemingly more conventional bad boss who appears to be a dynamic top executive, but is really a psychopathic bully. He “owns” Nick and keeps him tormented and miserable by making him work excessively long hours with the (false) promise of a big promotion. It’s the treadmill from Hell for “nice-guy” Nick. Not only is Harken a tyrant at the office where he frequently drives grown men to tears, he’s also insanely jealous regarding his beautiful wife, Rhonda, played by Julie Bowen. Spacey is consistently good, and this role is no different.

A totally unrecognizable Colin Farrell plays Bobby Pellitt, the coke-head, completely self-centered boss of Kurt. Farrell is brilliant, and I really wish he’d had more screen time. During the credits, out-takes and bloopers are shown, and one of them is a dropped scene with Farrell. It’s so funny that I would have liked to see the lead-up to the scene and also think it should have been included. Farrell has the least screen time of all the bosses, and that’s a crime!

Jason Bateman, true to character, gives a very competent portrayal of Nick, with his look of quiet desperation and wittily dry line delivery. I love this actor! Jason Sudeikis, also true to character, does his usual slightly annoying screw-up thing, and he does it well. The biggest surprise is Charlie Day, of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame. His character, Dale, is the resident hysteric who has the most to lose. He’s the only one who has a fiancé, and he’s truly the most innocent and naïve of the three. He does “hysterical” as well as Gene Wilder and has the physical comedy skill of Jim Carrey. You may not have known of him before this film, but you’ll surely look for him in the future. You may ask yourself why these guys don’t just quit their jobs and leave the horrible bosses behind, but each has a reason why he can’t, and finding out those reasons is part of the fun.

I really have only one complaint about the film. “The F-word” is over-used to the point of absurdity. The first four or five times, it’s funny, but after that it’s just tedious, and I found myself wishing for synonyms -- any synonyms. Over-all, though, it’s a very entertaining film, and you will laugh you’re a** off!

GRADE: A-

JoAnne Hyde Likes film.
She likes to write.
So she combines those two loves by reviewing films for BOF

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