- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by David Medsker
n retrospect, if directing “Four Christmases” is what director Seth Gordon had to do in order to get his hands on “Horrible Bosses,” it seems like a small price to pay. Unlike many recent ‘hard R’ comedies, which tend to operate at one speed (zany), “Bosses” is careful to balance the outrageous with a healthy dose of subtlety. Most importantly, the movie’s plot, while unlikely, is within the realm of plausibility for someone desperate enough. Unlike “The Hangover,” this movie could actually happen, and that shred of believability is huge.
Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day), and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) are nice guys who like their jobs but loathe their bosses. Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey, in full “Swimming with Sharks” mode) mind fucks Nick for sport. Kurt now has to answer to Bill (Colin Farrell), the cokehead son of his former boss who intends to strip the company for parts and retire wealthy. Dale works for horndog dentist Julia (Jennifer Aniston, in her best film role in nearly a decade), who sexually harasses Dale on a daily basis. After a few too many drinks, the three decide to hire someone to kill their bosses, which brings them to a two-bit thug (Jamie Foxx, and to say his character’s name would spoil the fun) who suggests that they kill each other’s bosses instead. No problem.
The casting agent for this movie should win an award. Bateman, Sudeikis and Day hit all of the big notes, but better still, they find the laughs in between the lines. Day is sillier than the other two (the scene of him as the lookout is priceless), but it works well in conjunction with Bateman and Sudeikis’ bone-dry approach, and all three are careful to keep the wacky antics to a minimum. Spacey isn’t breaking new ground as Harken, but he is having a lot of fun, and that is a welcome sight. Aniston takes things down a notch from her recent starring vehicles, and turns in a better performance as a result. Farrell, meanwhile, is the one left fighting for screen time. He has the most undeveloped character in the movie, but in fairness to him, that’s kind of the point.
Where the movie gets in trouble is in balancing the focus between subordinates and superiors. It is called “Horrible Bosses,” after all, and there are several instances where the bosses all but disappear from the story. The script also clearly favors Harken of the three bosses, and it’s easy to see why, but it causes problems in the third act. The movie’s many, many laughs camouflage this issue to a point, but eventually it becomes impossible to ignore. As flaws go, though, they’re easy to forgive, as “Horrible Bosses” is without question the funniest movie released so far this year, and the slyest raunch-com to date.