‘Horrible Bosses’: Whacking the boss can be fun

In one of the most pop­u­lar dis­gruntled-of­fice-work­er movies, the guys only wanted to steal from the com­pany as re­venge. For the guys in Hor­rible Bosses, it’s so bad that they think murder is the only way out.

While murder is ex­treme, it’s fit­ting and funny here be­cause these are def­in­itely not the guys you would identi­fy as hardened crim­in­als in a po­lice lineup. The stars, Jason Bate­man, Jason Sudei­kis and Charlie Day, are just some Av­er­age Joe-type bud­dies who seem to go about their busi­ness without step­ping on any toes. 

Bate­man’s char­ac­ter, Nick Hendricks, has ba­sic­ally giv­en up everything im­port­ant to him, and has no life out­side of work, for the op­por­tun­ity to move up to middle man­age­ment at his job. But his boss (Kev­in Spacey … he’s a fun bad guy) has oth­er ideas.

Nick’s friend Kurt (Sudei­kis) loves his ac­count­ant job and loves his boss Jack (Don­ald Suth­er­land). Then Murphy’s Law hap­pens — Jack sud­denly drops dead and his drug-ad­dict son Bobby (Colin Far­rell) takes over the com­pany.

Dale (Day) is in the seem­ingly en­vi­able po­s­i­tion of be­ing a dent­al as­sist­ant to the very at­tract­ive Dr. Ju­lia Har­ris (Jen­nifer An­is­ton). The soon-to-be-mar­ried Dale is a firm be­liev­er in mono­gamy and finds Dr. Ju­lia’s sexu­al ad­vances ex­tremely un­com­fort­able.

(Time out here. I can’t ima­gine any man want­ing to kill a boss that looks like An­is­ton. I un­der­stand the shock value in mak­ing the good-girl, rom-com queen An­is­ton a potty-mouthed nym­pho­ma­ni­ac, but I think it would have been more be­liev­able if it was an un­at­tract­ive wo­man or an older (I’m think­ing Betty White’s age group) wo­man. I’ll give Day some cred­it here … I’m sure it wasn’t easy to pre­tend to be hor­ri­fied by An­is­ton’s pro­pos­i­tions.)

One night over drinks, the guys de­cide their lives would be a lot bet­ter if their bosses wer­en’t around any­more. Of course, they’re all too afraid to do the dirty work them­selves.

In a funny scene, they try to find a hit man from Craigslist, and when that fails, they head to a seedy bar on the bad side of town. Jam­ie Foxx packs a lot of punch in­to a small role as the guys’ murder con­sult­ant (with an ex­plet­ive-laden name not fit for print). His ne­go­ti­at­ing skills are quite ad­mir­able.

Dir­ect­or Seth Gor­don (Four Christ­mases) keeps the pace brisk and the laughs are fre­quent in the script from writers Mi­chael Markow­itz, John Fran­cis Da­ley and Jonath­an Gold­stein.

The 9-to-5 grind has its chal­lenges, and the sub­ject of this dark com­edy prob­ably hits pretty close to home for a lot of people. I know I can re­late to hav­ing been burned a time or two by a hor­rible boss in my ca­reer.

At its core, Hor­rible Bosses is an­oth­er raunchy R-rated com­edy in a sum­mer that already has giv­en us The Hangover Part II, Brides­maids and Bad Teach­er. I ap­pre­ci­ated the lack of toi­let hu­mor in this one, since some of the oth­er films have taken it too far lately.

The cast works well to­geth­er and there are lots of laughs. The vil­lains are fun to hate, and though the end­ing is a bit weak, Hor­rible Bosses is one of the bet­ter com­ed­ies to hit theat­ers this sum­mer. ••

Movie Grade: B+

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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