Monday, July 11, 2011

Movie Review: Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses ***
Directed by: Seth Gordon   
Written by: Michael Markowitz and John Francis Daley & Jonathan M. Goldstein.
Starring: Jason Bateman (Nick Hendricks), Charlie Day (Dale Arbus), Jason Sudeikis (Kurt Buckman),
Kevin Spacey (Dave Harken), Jennifer Aniston (Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S.), Colin Farrell (Bobby Pellitt), Jamie Foxx (Dean 'MF' Jones), Lindsay Sloane (Stacy), Donald Sutherland (Jack Pellit), John Francis Daley (Carter), Ioan Gruffudd (Wetwork Man), Julie Bowen (Rhonda Harken), Bob Newhart (Lou Sherman).

I don’t care who you are, there are times when you don’t like your boss. They can be the nicest person in the world, but there are days when you cannot stand them. Anyone who tells you different is lying. Horrible Bosses does two things – the first being that it makes you feel better about your own boss, because there is no way in hell that your boss could possibly be worse than the three assholes here, and the second being it lets you indulge your fantasies – however infrequent they may be – in knocking off your boss and taking their job. In does this all in one of the funniest mainstream comedies of the year so far. Forget The Hangover Part II, hell forget Bridesmaids. Horrible Bosses is just plain funnier.

The movie stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as three nice normal guys. Bateman is Nick, who has been slaving for years trying to make a good impression on his boss, Harken (Kevin Spacey) to land a promotion that Harken has just decided to give to himself instead. Day is Dale, an amusing little man, who works as a dental assistant to Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), who is constantly sexually harassing him – but he cannot quite, because he once got busted for peeing in an abandoned children’s park at night, and is now a registered sex offender. Sudeikis is Kurt, who actually loves his boss (Donald Sutherland), until he dies, and his cokehead son Bobby (Colin Farrell) takes over – and immediately tells Kurt to fire all the fatties, because they depress him. Clearly, their only option is to kill their bosses, which after consulting with Mother Fucker Jones (Jamie Foxx), they decide to do – Strangers on a Train style. But these three idiots can’t get it right.

The premise of the movie is simple, but it works. It works mainly because of the performances. Bateman, Day and Sudeikis spend most of the movie together, bickering and arguing like children, and they have an easy, natural chemistry together. Yes, to a very real extent, Jason Bateman is playing the same, buttoned down character he has played countless times over the past few years, and Sudeikis is pretty much playing the same character he did in Hall Pass earlier this year. If I cannot say the same thing about Charlie Day, it’s because I’ve never seen his show – It’s Always Funny in Philadelphia – and if he’s been in another movie before, I can’t remember him. Yet, together, these three feel fresh and original. As for their bosses, they are perfectly cast. Kevin Spacey may simply be playing the same psycho boss he played in Swimming with Sharks (1995), but I’m not sure how many remember that movie – or remember just how great Spacey was in it. It’s always good to see Spacey in a movie, since he doesn’t make a lot, ever since he won his second Oscar more than a decade ago. Jennifer Aniston hasn’t been this good in a movie in a while now, and I am completely relieved that she does not simply play Rachel here, as she seemingly does in so many of her movies. She is hilarious as the sexually aggressive boss – that of course had to be a woman, because if it had been a man doing this to a woman, it would be disturbing, and not funny. Sometimes double standards work. And although he is painfully underused, Colin Farrell is my favorite of these three idiot bosses, dancing around, doing his kung fu fighting, and being completely clueless as to what is going on around him. The supporting cast – especially Jamie Foxx – is wonderful as well.

And that’s really all I can think to say about the film. It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything, but what it does, it does well. I laughed more at this movie than any other recent mainstream comedy – and what’s more, I never felt guilty about laughing either. Yes, there are some crude jokes, but the film never devolves into gross out humor. It’s just pure comedy – a nice distraction for midsummer – and on that level, the movie works.

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