If there is anything I could not be more sympathetic with, it’s having a horrible boss. I’ve had a few myself and I’ve sat and contemplated things I’d love to say to them that might be less polite than normal, but never how I would murder them. So while my thoughts don’t navigate to extreme crime, I think it’s pretty great fodder for comedy and HORRIBLE BOSSES executes it with side splitting precision. It’s not just the star studded cast, or over the top evil depicted from the bosses, it’s also the chemistry of the three disgruntled employees and their stupidity that had me in stitches until the final frame.
Meet Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis); they all have one problem in common, they have evil bosses. Nick’s boss, Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), is a slave driving psycho that’s paranoid about his wife cheating on him so he makes Nick’s life a living hell. Dale’s boss, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), sexually harasses Dale on a regular basis and threatening his relationship with his fiancé. Kurt’s boss, Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell), just inherited his father’s business but being a cokehead he’s only interested in draining every ounce of profit from it and he hates Kurt. The trio decides their lives will only get better if their bosses were to disappear so they come up with a plan to murder each other’s boss in order to eliminate connection to the victim as well as motive. Even with the wisdom of Dean ‘MF’ Jones (Jaime Foxx) the group finds that killing their bosses is much more complicated than they anticipated.
If HORRIBLE BOSSES made me realize anything it’s that I am game for any movie that teams Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis together as a comedic duo. Jason Bateman is the perfect mixture of calm in the chaos of those two’s personalities to really make this cast one of the tops of the year. Charlie Day’s performance is calm at times and then completely crazy as things progress. Sudeikis plays a character that’s a mixture of his characters from GOING THE DISTANCE and HALL PASS and Bateman is snarky, calm and just as hilarious as the rest. Put all three together and the chemistry is frenetic but melds incredibly well together. Of the bosses, Spacey gets the most to do, then Aniston and Farrell gets the back hand. Spacey plays a jerk very well and when he progresses to crazy it gets pretty comical. Aniston and Farrell are in the background for quite a bit but they both have some very funny bits.
What makes HORRIBLE BOSSES work as a completely hilarious comedy is that even though some characters are evil and malicious and the others are aspiring murderers, everything is presented in over-the-top cartoonish ways. If the tone was more realistic I highly doubt this would anywhere near as laugh out loud funny; it would probably be more of a dark comedy if that’s the direction they took. It still has a feeling of dark comedy, but all of the characters are exaggerated to extreme lengths. The other key point is that even though the darker elements get a caricature work over they give Bateman, Day and Sudeikis’ characters realistic motives and establishing scenes where they realize the absurdity in talking about murdering your boss. It’s when they move passed hypothetical conversation and into practice that the over-the-top comedy kicks in.
As for the actual jokes and gags, most of the movie I found hysterical. There are dips in the action where the jokes don’t quite hit, but more often than not I was laughing in some fashion or another. One of the less subtle laughs for me is during a stakeout of Spacey’s house and Charlie Day is belting out The Ting Tings’ hit “That’s Not My Name” in the car while dancing and rocking the back of the car chair back and forth and playing Angry Birds. Bateman’s laughs come from his stone calm in the midst of Day and Sudeikis hitting each other and moments when most people would be blabbering incoherently. Sudeikis is the horny one of the bunch and a lot of his jokes come from his sexual conquests and jokes as well as his cultural/racial ignorance.
There are moments and jokes that seem out of place in a movie I found consistently funny all the way through. Some things are way over the top, but nothing that took me completely out of the film. HORRIBLE BOSSES embraces the outlandishness of its plot just like another hit comedy, THE HANGOVER, but has much less of the moments that made that film and its sequel slow down to a dull hush.
If you’re on the fence about seeing HORRIBLE BOSSES let me be the one that gives the gentle shove towards getting out and seeing it. An all star cast including a hilarious bit from Jaime Foxx, a plot that gets right to the point and a constant barrage of hilarious jokes and gags makes HORRIBLE BOSSES an exceptional R rated comedy. There are low points that are few and far between and the mixture of dark and outrageous humor might be a little much for some and may not push the envelope enough for others. One thing is certain, if you want a crazy comedy in the same vein as THE HANGOVER but hated the sequel, then HORRIBLE BOSSES should easily do the trick.