In my opinion, some of the best recent comedies are those that have a few key ingredients: clever writing, an original idea and also a talented ensemble cast of actors that are allowed to do their own thing. Just let them improvise and run wild with ridiculous concepts and scenarios. That is what made 2009’s “The Hangover” such a success; it had a great group of actors that took a simple idea of a bachelor party in Las Vegas and turned it into a hilarious game of “what did we do last night?”
This same modus operandi applies to “Horrible Bosses.” In the film, a group of friends who hate their bosses decide that their lives and professional careers would be better off if they no longer had to deal with them. That simple idea can and does lead into a much larger comedic storyline.
When Dale (Charlie Day), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Nick (Jason Bateman) get together, all they do is talk about their jobs. All of them have something to complain about. Dale works as a dental assistant to Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), a sex-crazed nymphomaniac who is determined to sexually harass and intimidate the newly-engaged Dale. The more he resists, the harder she tries to seduce him. When that doesn’t work, she decides that if she can’t have him, then she will break-up his engagement. Then there’s Kurt, the senior accountant for a local chemical company. He loves his job until his sweet and kind boss Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland) dies and his cocaine-riddled son Bobby Pellit (Colin Farrell) takes over and instantly starts to make it apparent that he doesn’t care about the business or the people who work for it. Lastly, we meet Nick, who has worked long and hard at his job, putting in overtime and kissing some serious butt to get to where he is today. After eight years at the financial trading company, Nick is finally about to be promoted to vice-president of sales when he learns that his boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) has been leading him on about the promotion to get him to work even harder.
The then-frustrated guys get drunk and talk amongst themselves and a crazy idea pops out during this inebriated discussion. “What if they could get rid of their bosses?” Dale decides to go online to find a hit man, but when internet jargon is mistaken for something completely different, they realize they will have to find a killer themselves. A funny scene of them using their navigational system to find the dirtiest neighborhood around brings them into contact with Dean “MF’er” Jones (Jamie Foxx), a tattooed ex-convict who just got out of prison after serving a 10-year sentence. He ends up becoming their consultant and gives them the idea to gather information and then kill each other’s bosses. After that, a lot of simple scenarios go horribly wrong in one way or another and the more that Nick, Dale and Kurt try to be professional, the crazier each scenario gets.
Director Seth Gordon has assembled a top-notch team of actors who show such chemistry together that it is believable that they could be friends. Jason Bateman is perfectly cast in his typical role as the more mentally balanced of the three friends, and Jason Sudeikis is the horny one who lets his manhood lead him into danger over and over again. Lastly, there is Charlie Day, who in his Zach Galifianakis-esque like qualities and mindset is the funniest by far and a complete scene-stealer. His high-pitched fanatical voice and amateurish actions prove to foil the group’s plans again and again, but we love his character anyways.
Out of the nightmarish superiors, we have Kevin Spacey in a role he has perfected over the years: the irate, maniacal jerk who proves to be the main antagonist in the film. Colin Farrell is nearly unrecognizable as the pot-bellied druggie boss with what could be the worst comb-over in history. He is quite funny and underutilized in my opinion, and every time he is onscreen he proves that he should be doing more comedy.
Lastly, we have the Jennifer Aniston as the highly inappropriate dentist. She is the least menacing of the three bosses, but since Charlie Day’s character Dale wants to be married more than anything else, her sexual advances and blackmail prove to be the kryptonite that causes him to snap and want her dead. This is a role unlike anything Aniston has ever done before. She has a bit of trouble pulling off the mean side of it, but maybe she wasn’t supposed to be as dark and gritty as the other two. We are shown early on how troubling these three can be, so even though you might not root for them to be killed, you still want them to get what they deserve.
Overall, the film moves along with massive amounts of comedy, with some action sprinkled in there. The comedy is good in the film because the majority of it comes from surprises that are out of left field. A lot of humor comes from the bluntness and innocence of the three main characters trying to do something out of character. Utilizing each of the characters’ strengths and quirks, this is an ensemble comedy that will surprise and shock you at times but most importantly it will keep you laughing.
The film also stars — in smaller or cameo roles — Julie Bowen, P.J. Byrne, John Francis Daley,Celia Finkelstein, Bob Newhart, Isaiah Mustafa and Ioan Gruffudd.
Rated R for crude and sexual content, language and drug use, “Horrible Bosses” hits theaters July 8.
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