"Horrible Bosses" is so far the funniest R-rated comedy in a year crowded (some would say overcrowded) with R-rated comedies. Already this year we've had "Bad Teacher", "Bridesmaids", "Hall Pass", "The Hangover Part 2", "Paul", and "Your Highness". "Horrible Bosses" tops them all. It isn't a film I would recommend to people who hate raunchy comedy (one of the characters even has an unprintable name), but if you're its target audience, you're in for a good time.
Jason Bateman plays Nick, who works for Harkin (Kevin Spacey). Harkin is a condescending taskmaster who refuses to let Nick advance at the company and promises to destroy him if he tries to get another job. Jason Sudeikis plays Kurt, who works for Pellit (Colin Farrell). Pellitt recently inherited the chemical company from his late father and plans to shirk safety regulations while using the company as his personal piggy bank. Charlie Day plays Dale, who works as a dental assistant for Dr. Julia (Jennifer Aniston). Dr. Julia is a nymphomaniac who wants Dale to cheat on his fiancée with her. Why she wants Dale of all people is beyond me, maybe she's just attracted to men she can't have.
The three disgruntled employees commiserate at a bar. One makes a joke about killing his boss. The others agree that their lives would be easier without their bosses. Then they agree that the world would be a better place without their bosses. Slowly but surely the subject becomes less hypothetical and they agree that they need to murder their bosses. Unable to find a hitman, they settle for a "murder consultant" (Jamie Foxx), who can teach them how to pull off clean murders themselves.
Of course, to pull of the perfect murder, one has to be clever, confidant, and coordinated. These characters are clumsy, panicky, and have a knack for saying stupid things and making bad decisions. Any success they enjoy can be directly attributed to dumb luck. They manage to make a mess out of their simplest plans, and you giggle with anticipation for how they're going to mess up the complicated ones. The trio is stupid in the situation, but it's a believable stupidity. Too often comedies will annoy you with characters that are so stupid you wonder how they even function. With this film you really get the feeling that the gravity of the situation is making fools out of the characters. You can sympathize with their mistakes.
Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day all complement each other with excellent chemistry, maybe the best I've seen in a long time. I do feel that their characters could have been more developed to the point where they had distinct personalities. All three characters have essentially the same traits and they go through the same range of emotions simultaneously. Spacey, Farrell, and Aniston all have unique characters to play as the villains, why can't the same be said of our heroes?
"Horrible Bosses" deserves to enjoy a lot of success in theaters, but I feel it will also enjoy a lot of success as home entertainment. Every one of the actors is funny and director Seth Gordon fills the film with a consistent comic energy that is unfortunately rare these days. I think the film will lend itself well to repeat viewings. There are so many funny moments in the film that as your favorites slowly lose their punch (because you've been repeating them in your head for so long), you'll gain new appreciation for several others. You might even discover new funny moments that you missed the first time. The audience at the showing I attended laughed so hard that they missed a few perfectly good gags. The R-rated comedy might not be for everyone, but otherwise "Horrible Bosses" is worth watching once in theaters and then again and again at home.
Three Stars out of Five
"Horrible Bosses" is rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug material. Its running time is 100 minutes.