‘Horrible Bosses’ review: Murder, mayhem and Murphy’s Law
‘Horrible Bosses’ a comical, if unrealistic, look into the angry worker’s psyche
There’s ineptitude. And then there’s “No way did they just go into the seediest bar ever and ask the black bartender if he knew any hit men in the most racist way possible” ineptitude. And it’s the latter of these two that runs rampant through the surprisingly humorous “Horrible Bosses.” Somehow stringing together an increasingly hilarious (and improbable) chain of unfortunate events, “Horrible Bosses” proves that, in rare cases, an incessant flow of efficient humor can go further than sporadic gut-bustingly funny situations.
Heavily inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train” and Danny DeVito’s “Throw Mama from the Train,” “Horrible Bosses” is outlandishly absurd, but that’s what makes it so appealing. Proving inappropriate and offensive to everyone within striking distance, without once offering an apology, director Seth Gordon (“Four Christmases”) takes PC and throws it to the curb. And better yet, the screenplay written by Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein never tries to be anything it’s not.
What we get instead is three friends who, disgusted and fed up with their individual work situations (according to two of the three amigos, being sexually harassed by an attractive woman should not warrant such anguish), decide to snuff their bosses. We’ve all been there: If only our bosses were out of the way, our lives would be perfect. Most of us, however, don’t necessarily delve into the foray of murder. But in this case, their descent into vice and criminality seems as innocent as it is pathetic. And the level of obscenity (both verbal and action-wise) is just delightful, considering there’s nothing to balance it out at all.
Starting off the list of disgruntled employees is Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development”), who has been working 12-hour days for years, begrudgingly obeying his sadistic employer, Dave Harken (a classic smarmy Kevin Spacey), in the hopes of obtaining a lucrative promotion. But he soon comes to the realization that that career advancement was nothing more than fantasy.
Next up is Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis, “Hall Pass”), a woman-chasing accountant who is truly happy with his job and boss (Donald Sutherland) at a chemical company. But when the old man suffers a fatal heart attack, the business falls into his heartless, cocaine-addicted son’s (Colin Farrell, “Alexander”)greedy hands (or should it be nose?).
And last, but certainly not least, we have Dale Arbus (Charlie Day, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), an engaged dental assistance who can’t seem to maintain his dignity because of the salacious sexual advances of his boss, Julie Harris, D.D.S. (a cleverly casted Jennifer Aniston, “Friends”), which only worsen with each encounter.
The three men share a bubbly energy, whether it’s when doing recon on their bosses (which has to involve Charlie Angels-style maneuvers, because how else will you find out how to kill your boss?) to sifting contaminated cocaine in a blazingly frenetic pace (inhaling that much blow will do that to you). It gives off a bit of a “Three Stooges” vibe, but only if they were involved with hit men, sexual harassment and cocaine. Yes, they’re homophobic, misogynistic and a bit racist, but it’s done so unabashedly, so without remorse, you can’t help but laugh (even if you hate yourself afterward). Think “The Hangover” minus Vegas (but keep the crazy cat).
But we can’t forget the horrendous bosses, as they make the film effective. Spacey’s sadistic tendencies — “I own you,” he crows to Nick — will have you itching for his comeuppance. And the almost-unrecognizable Farrell (donning a combover that should be outlawed) is the definition of a tool. And watching Aniston play the naughty deviant just showcases how funny she can be. It’s obvious all three are having a blast being the bane of the main characters’ existence.
There’s an underlying relatability to “Horrible Bosses” that can’t be denied. To extent that there is a point, it has something (maybe everything) to do with the unfairness of work at a time of high unemployment, when everything seems to be tilted in favor of those who already have power.
But the movie doesn’t really develop any true reflection on the plight of the working man. That would be a different movie, one with a message. And the only message “Horrible Bosses” has is that if something can go wrong, it will. So be prepared, because you never know when you may need those gloves.
Four stars out of five.