Review of Horrible Bosses (2011)
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Run Time: 98 minutes
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekeis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey & Charlie Day As a black comedy, Horrible Bosses succeeds at being hilarious and raunchy. The movie's plot also makes it adventurous and fun, and such a combination was very refreshing for a comedy.
The storytelling format is also creative, as director Seth Gordon introduces the three different perspectives of the three main characters in the opening of the film. Friends Nick Hendricks (Bateman), Kurt Buckman (Sudekeis), and Dale Arbus (Day) all have their own dilemmas at work. Each situation is depicted as the respective character narrates it. The one thing the three dilemmas have in common is a horrible boss.
Nick represents the typical corporate America workhorse who suffers through each workday in hopes of getting a promotion. Kevin Spacey plays his boss, Dave Harken. Though he's probably the most realistic of the workplace figures presented, he's also the meanest. Harkens taunts Hendricks with the possibility of a promotion to a Vice President position. Because he clings to the hope his boss will someday relent, Nick continues to go along with his sadistic games.
Kurt Buckman works at a chemical company where he has a genuine friend in the owner, Jack Pellitt (Donald Sutherland). Pellitt's son is another story, however. Spending much of his time face-down in the bathroom, Bobby Pellitt is narcissistic and vulgar, not to mention he couldn't care less about the company and its success. Following a fluke car accident, Jack is killed, leaving Kurt to work for Bobby if he wants to stay at Pellitt.
The dilemma facing Dale (Day) is a little bit different compared to that of his friends'. He's a dental hygienist working alongside an attractive boss, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston). Happily in love and engaged, Dale is constantly fending off workplace harassment at the hands of the lusty dentist. Not only does she constantly grope him, she actually insists that they engage in sexual relations before he gets married. When Dale finally voices his true feelings--that he does not plan to cheat on his fiance--Julia threatens him with blackmail. She also taunts her employee by bringing his future wife into the workplace, offering free dental services in celebration of their engagement. The resulting situation leaves Dale stressed out and on edge.
Jason Sudekeis' character acts as the brains of the group while Charlie Day is like the naive baby. The character of Dale is like a nervous and excited kid who always blurts out the wrong thing at the wrong time. Jason Bateman is the more reserved and mature of the three. He's visibly more depressed and disturbed by their situations, while Kurt and Dale have fun up in the clouds.
While having their usual drinks at the bar one night, the three men are discussing the extent of their misery. One of them mentions the possibility of offing their bosses, an idea which leads Dale to get angry and leave. Following the incident, each individual returns to their workplace, where they continue to be pushed further and further towards the point of no return. When they reunite the next day, Dale is on board with the other two. It's time to get rid of their horrible bosses.
Because they are like fish out of water when it comes to murdering people, Nick, Kurt and Dale set out in search of a possible hit man. They travel to the more dangerous parts of the city, and upon entering a bar, are quickly kicked out for talking out loud about the acts they want performed. One man who's sitting at the bar witnesses their exchange and follows them outside. This character is played by Jamie Foxx. He tells the men he goes by the street name of "Motherfu**ka". Under the impression he's going to carry out their crimes for them, the trio of friends agrees to bring $5,000 to a meeting the following night.
Unfortunately for Nick, Kurt and Dale, Motherfu**a ends up explaining that he's a murder consultant. He takes their money and offers some advice to silence their squabbling.
Later in the movie, Motherfu**a helps in carrying out one of their ploys.
Bottom line: 4 out of 5 stars. This comedy went way beyond my expectations in terms of its storyline and accompanying plot twists. A review by the Pasadena Star-News explains one of the film's assets in its opening paragraph, as it reads, "Horrible Bosses is a rarity in this era of marketing overload in that the previews did not give it all away." Indeed this was not your typical comedy, made up of scenes that show people doing stupid things to be funny. It actually has a clever plot that's woven together with some unexpected turns and twists in between. Additionally, a handful of standout performances make the movie memorable and especially hilarious.
I must admit that prior to seeing Horrible Bosses, I wasn't exactly jumping out of my seat to see Jennifer Aniston. I couldn't picture her as a sex-crazed dentist, and I didn't exactly find her hilarious in her last few movies. I ended up biting my tongue for these assumptions after seeing the film. As the raunchy and foul-mouthed female antagonist, Aniston's portrayal made me laugh over and over again. Furthermore, her beyond-uncomfortable scenes with Charlie Day were definitely a highlight of the film.
Another actor who really soars out of the box in this movie is Colin Farrell. Playing the part of a drug-loving, person-hating corporate heir Bobby Pellitt, he sports a half unbuttoned shirt along with a bad come over and a 70's wardrobe. Prior to Horrible Bosses, who knew that such a heartthrob could put on such a show with this creepy character and his outrageous antics. Colin Farrell undoubtedly demonstrates superb acting ability with this performance, which is a far cry from his usual roles. Referring to his character of Bobby Pellitt, Paste Magazine writes, "It is a performance reminiscent of Tom Cruise's memorable turn as super-producer Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder."
As for the talented Jamie Foxx, the singer/actor stole every scene he was in. Unfortunately, he was only in about three of them. It would've been nice to see more of him and his "Motherfu**a" character.
Finally, Kevin Spacey as villain Dave Harken also makes for a main attraction of the film. Not surprisingly, the "Swimming with Sharks" actor plays this character with relative ease. He's also convincingly psychotic. Towards the second half of the film, Harken is revealed to be a lot more than an evil boss.
I'm not sure whether this was a part of his script or not, but Jason Bateman really didn't do anything for me this time around. He was the most reserved of the three friends, acting as the wisdom behind the group (if you could call it that). However, like Kurt and Dale, he also lacks in the common sense department. Throughout the movie, Bateman's character continues to look dejected, disturbed and possibly confused. Maybe this is how he was supposed to come across, but given his funny guy mentality, I'm surprised he didn't do more.
Ultimately the ingenious combination of Day, Bateman and Sudekeis allows the actors' natural chemistry to come across onscreen, and the result is humor over and over again.