Directed by Seth Gordon
Starring Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Donald Sutherland
Written by Michael Markowitz, John Frances Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
In the ever perfectly fitting placement of poor Hollywood screenwriting, three high school friends find themselves stuck between a rock and a bad economy. Horrible Bosses plays like 9 to 5 meets Strangers on a Train circa Judd Apatow. The resulting film is an unorthodox collection of sketches, some that work, some that don’t, which doesn’t amount to much, but is funny nonetheless.
Nick (Bateman), Dale (Day) and Kurt (Sudekeis) have all found themselves in an untenable situation at their places of work. Nick works for Dave (Spacey), who is insanely jealous of his wife and generally enjoys the misery he puts his employees into. Dale, a dental assistant, is being accosted continually by his sex-starved dentist boss, Dr. Julia (Aniston) and it looks to get in the way of his pending marriage to his longtime girlfriend. Bobby (Farrell) is the louse, drug addled son of Kurt’s boss, who passes away soon after credits roll, but not too soon to hear that he was in line to get the job. He doesn’t, of course. Bobby steps in.
This set up is about the worst aspect of the film. The exposition goes out of its way to show that the friends have ostensibly no way out, as if to make what comes next more excusable. It would have been easier to say the economy sucked and leave it at that. That part of the film infirmly established, we move on to the next phase of the plot: how to get rid of their problems. Enter “M.F.” Jones (Foxx), a hit man who misleads the guys into giving him $5000 for becoming their murder consultant. His advice, each of the friends should kill the other’s “problems,” but before they start, they should do surveillance to help, of course, make them all look like accidents.
At this, the film takes off like a jalopy, clanking and puking out filth throughout the journey, but getting somewhere in the process.
“It’s like we stepped inside the mind of an asshole.”
Kurt spouts the line as they break into the house of his boss, Bobby. It’s a simple phrase, but it’s enjoyable and apt. The script from here on is dotted with these types of lines. Some of them my wife liked, some I did. Either way, one can safely expect to get a chuckle or three about every half hour. There is a pleasant aspect to the randomness of the humor throughout Horrible Bosses. It fits together well at times, other times it clanks, and at other times goes absolutely nowhere. Editing may have helped, especially when one watches the end credit scenes and sees some that would have improved the overall story and are funnier than most of what was left in.
As for acting, Sedeikis, Day and Bateman have a certain amount of chemistry. Each of them have their great lines and none of them are overly sympathetic, either. This could be a breakthrough for Day, who until now has acquired the reputation he has on the cable show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. As for the bosses, Aniston and Farrell made the biggest change from their normal routine as Spacey did the guy he’s worked to a tee by now. Again, their effectiveness is dependent on the writing and editing.
Obviously, more works on this film than doesn’t work. It is the kind of film that could get better or worse with repeated viewings. If it sounds like I haven’t made up my mind…I am pretty sure the fact I think I will be watching it again should say enough.
(*** out of *****)