Comedy “Horrible Bosses”, a foul-mouthed new comedy of male resentment directed by Seth Gordon, is about three buddies who plan to kill their supervisors. With Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston. Those who have to drag themselves to work every morning will surely find some comfort in Seth Gordon’s cheerfully outrageous revenge comedy “Horrible Bosses.”
Gordon, who made the terrific documentary “The King of Kong,” is still a little wobbly when it comes to fiction. Fortunately, his outstanding cast steadies all but the most uneven moments.
Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) are best friends who meet each night to unload their miseries. Nick is perpetually humiliated by his monstrous CEO (Kevin Spacey), Dale is being sexually harassed by the dentist he assists (Jennifer Aniston), and Kurt works for a drug-addled, wannabe playboy (Colin Farrell).
Soon, what begins as a fantasy nurtured over happy hour turns into tempting reality: could they possibly off their bosses? Deciding each should meet with a fatal “accident,” the guys plan the perfect crime . . . and then fail dramatically every step along the way.
It requires no great critical insight to figure out what’s wrong with “Horrible Bosses”. The movie, in addition to being expectedly vulgar, is noisy and preposterous, and its humor flirts with racism, goes steady with misogyny and pretty much marries homophobia. There are guns, drugs, several references to sex acts involving urine, and gross insults — unless they are extravagant compliments.
All the actors have their moments. Even Aniston commits fully to a thankless role; surely there are better ways to shed her good-girl image than by desperately molesting the whiny Day.
“Horrible Bosses” is frequently funny. One reason is that it does not bother to cut its coarseness with a hypocritical dose of sweetness or respectability. Nor, however, does it make a big show of being provocative, of pretending that its forays into offensiveness are acts of bravery. It takes the ordinary human traits of stupidity, selfishness, lust and greed, embeds them in a human condition that is confusing and also stupid, and turns the whole sorry spectacle into a carnival.
There’s a moment in Horrible Bosses when Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), the film’s unlikely lothario, exits a bathroom having just consummated a spur-of-the-moment tryst. The joke in the scene ought to be the fact that the entire encounter, from seduction to completion, lasts just barely longer than the couple of minutes his two buddies, Nick and Dale (Jason Bateman and Charlie Day), take to finish a conversation in another room.
Instead, poor Julie Bowen (of TV’s Modern Family) is the butt of the joke, exiting the bathroom immediately after, looking mortified and unable to speak — because, it seems, her mouth is full. When faced with the choice of which gag to go for, Horrible Bosses generally selects the raunchiest laugh possible, all other considerations be damned.
The first half hour of the film, setting up these characters, is sharp and hilarious. All the comic actors in director Seth Gordon’s impressive ensemble are game for whatever he and his team of writers throw at them. For Bateman and Day, that mostly involves playing to the strengths and personas they’ve established already: Bateman’s Nick isn’t a far cry from Arrested Development’s pragmatic Michael Bluth, and after a subdued start, Day’s Dale quickly slips into the familiar notes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadephia’s manic Charlie Kelly.
On the other side, Aniston enjoys playing against her girl-next-door type, delivering some of the bluest dialogue you’ll hear outside of an adult film this year. This is a new way of looking at Jennifer Aniston. America’s sweetheart since her days on “Friends” and reigning romantic comedy good girl, Aniston exposes a new side of herself in Horrible Bosses.”
Aniston’s orthodontist is perhaps the funniest boss of them all, a sleazy orthodontist who spends much of the film sexually harassing Charlie Day’s character. Which goes to show how far out of the ordinary her taste is; after all, she was once in a loving relationship with Brad Pitt. In fact, Aniston filmed a version of one of the film’s scenes entirely topless and exposed, which is something new for her; whether it stays in the film or not still has not been decided.
Farrell similarly relishes his broad turn as a coked-out martial arts-obsessed middle-aged womanizer, while Jamie Foxx, as the tattooed ex-con mentor for the murder plot, steals every scene he’s in. [via The New York Times, Daily News, The Washington Post, NPR]