Movie Review: Horrible Bosses (R)

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Length: 100 minutes

MPAA Rating: R

Age Appropriate for: 17+. There is tons of cursing and dirty language (including lots of the f-word, one use of the other slur f-word, and a bunch of sexually graphic terms); violence, like those planned deaths; and drug use, primarily cocaine. There is also a bunch of sexual content, like Aniston in nothing but a doctor’s coat and panties; her character sexually abusing her employee; and jokes about and scenes revolving around one-night stands and masturbation. Definitely for older teens and parents, not younger viewers.

Countless reruns of ‘Law and Order’ have basically taught me what not to do after committing a heinous crime, like killing someone. ‘Horrible Bosses,’ though, makes a wonderfully enjoyable (and not even that morally depraved) case for it.

By Roxana Hadadi

I will always remember the worst boss I ever had. He was stubborn, obnoxious, egomaniacal and pretty much terrible. He would always order these huge trays of sushi and eat them all by himself (what happened to sharing?!). He kept food in the office fridge months past the expiration date; once I found a container of tuna that had expired more than a year ago. He insisted on making inappropriate sexual comments to a room full of women. He had an office door, and it was never open. Did I ever think about killing him? Probably.

If you’ve never fantasized about annihilating a much-hated boss, then you’re a better person than I — but you’re probably not funnier than “Horrible Bosses,” the latest wonderfully raunchy and thoroughly inappropriate R-rated comedy to come out this summer. Much like “Bad Teacher,” which came out a few weeks ago, “Horrible Bosses” focuses on a group of people who can’t really tolerate each other but are forced to coexist; while “Bad Teacher” took out its characters’ frustrations on unassuming students, “Horrible Bosses” focuses its rage at the people who most deserve it. The boss who violates and sexually harasses us. The boss who can’t see past his or her own outsized pride. The boss who abuses our patience and our humanity. Die, people, die!

“Horrible Bosses,” directed by Seth Gordon and written by Michael Markowitz and John Francis Daley (yes, the cute young Sam “Freaks and Geeks,” and now Sweets on “Bones”), is always make-believe — unlike the R-rated “Bridesmaids,” which excelled because of its realistic depictions of female friendship and competition — but that doesn’t make it any less hilarious. The film doesn’t really need that much character development or backstory because it exists fully in the present, in those hours after an exhaustingly crappy day where you’re venting to your friends about the futility of your existence and the intangible meaning of life. Children and teens won’t really get it (and shouldn’t, since “Horrible Bosses,” much like “The Hangover Part II,” is a hard R, full of cursing, violence and sexual situations), but parents will: Sometimes it just seems like everything would be better if your supervisor, your torturer, was gone. “Horrible Bosses” takes that premise and sprints with it, cackling in glee and delivering a movie with great chemistry in three heroes Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) and their respective bosses, “psycho” Dave (Kevin Spacey), “tool” Bobby (Colin Farrell) and “maneater” Julia (Jennifer Aniston).

Friends since high school, Nick, Kurt and Dale are each suffering in their own ways. Nick has spent eight years in a job sucking up to Dave, hoping for a high-up sales position, until Dave decides to give the job to himself. Kurt had a meaningful bond with his boss Jack (Donald Sutherland), but after Jack suddenly dies, Kurt has to work with his son Bobby, a drug addict intent on running his father’s chemical company into the ground. And poor Dale can’t get his friends to understand that working as an assistant to hot dentist Julia isn’t fun at all — her demands that they have sex, despite his relationship with fiancee Stacy (Lindsay Sloane), are getting worse every day. “Yours doesn’t sound that bad,” says Kurt when Dale mentions Julia’s frequent nakedness (and in fact, the idea that Aniston parading around in lingerie would be unappealing to any man is a bit unbelievable).

But anyway, almost on a whim, Nick, Kurt and Dale decide to kill them. Their “murder consultant” (Jamie Foxx, with a first name beginning with “mother” that is totally unprintable in this magazine) suggest they pair up with each others’ bosses, so no one can link motives back to them. And then the plans begin: A shopping trip, recon in dark neighborhoods and houses, a speedy getaway in the much-mocked Toyota Prius. Whether our heroes can go through with their crimes or learn to live with their daily suffering is a slight moral lesson, but it is there, overwhelmingly overshadowed by jaw-droppingly funny bits that display the three leads’ various comedic styles.

Honestly, everyone here is amusing: Bateman is still the same dry, sarcastic guy he was on cult hit “Arrested Development”; Sudeikis brings the smarminess he applies to so many enjoyable characters on “Saturday Night Live”; and when Day’s character Dale transforms from mild-mannered to gutsy, he goes into full-on Charlie from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” mode, a manic, borderline insane guy with nothing to lose. Their friendship is believable because it incorporates their shared misery, and the actors who play their vindictive bosses seem to be fully enjoying themselves. Spacey wasn’t this evil even when he was Lex Luthor in “Superman Returns,” and Aniston and Farrell are practically unrecognizable in their deviousness. Who could have ever imagined such filthy things would ever pass Aniston’s lips, or that Farrell, always a pretty boy, would willingly look so unattractive? They embrace their characters’ flaws, making them delectably evil and wholly worthy of our resentment. I repeat — die, people, die!

“It’s not murder if it’s justified,” Kurt says, and so we love the main characters when they decide to do what the even-somewhat sane of us never would. “Horrible Bosses” is a complete daydream, but it’s an absolutely fulfilling one — even when the movie gets a little bit racist (the “most dangerous” bar in town is filled with black people), even when the ending is a bit too tidy, it’s solid fluff for parents and adults who can vicariously live through the fantastically unhinged proceedings.

 

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