Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Horrible Bosses" (2011)

Starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis
Written by Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daly and Jonathan M. Goldstein
Directed by Seth Gordon
Rated R - Language, drug use, violence, sexual situations
Running Time: 98 Minutes

Aside from "The Hangover, Part II" there's been quite a run of solid and even great R-rated comedies this year.  Highest on the list for this reviewer is still Kristen Wiig's riotous "Bridesmaids," but now coming up second is "Horrible Bosses."

Nick (Jason Bateman) has been working his ass off for eight months, showing up at 6 am sharp every morning in the hopes of getting a huge promotion.  Instead, his asshole boss Harken (Kevin Spacey) decides to take the title, the office and most of the pay for himself.  Dale (Charlie Day) is a dental assistant looking forward to marrying his fiance (Lindsay Sloane), but unfortunately his maneater nympho boss Julia (Jennifer Aniston) has got it hard for him.  Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) loves his job, until his kindly boss (Donald Sutherland) dies and the position is inherited by his cokehead son Bobby (Colin Farrell) who just wants to gut the company for profit.

These three friends eventually hatch an absurd plot to murder their bosses.  But since none of them actually knows how to plan and execute the murder of someone, they need to get help.  They drive to one of the worst bars in town and there they meet their "murder consultant," an ex-con named Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx) who, for $5,000, will tell them how to get away with killing their horrible bosses.  Taking a page from an old Hitchcock movie, "Strangers on a Train," the trio decides to each kill anothers' boss.

But forming a plan and executing it are two entirely different and difficult things.  Screwups, mishaps and misunderstandings will follow as the friends get themselves into worse and worse trouble just trying to make their lives a little bit easier.

"Horrible Bosses" is funnier than I thought it would be going in.  Sure, I liked the trailers and it looked like a solid flick, but we were laughing through nearly the entirety of the film.  Most of the comedy works due to the excellent chemistry of the three leads, Bateman, Sudeikis and Day.  These three men bounce off each other with ease, throwing out some incredible lines and facial expressions that are priceless.

It's great, then, that the script gives them a lot of good material to work with.  The situations with the bosses are, of course, horridly exaggerated, and yet almost entirely relatable.  Anyone who has ever had a boss they hate will see something in this movie that the recognize, whether it's Spacey's slimy, manipulative executive or Farrell's mysoginistic maniac.  It might be a bit harder to relate to having Jennifer Aniston lusting after you so hard that she sits around in her underwear waiting for you to join her... but I digress.

The supporting cast is full of great little moments for everyone.  Spacey, Farrell and Aniston are all clearly having a good time - especially Aniston, who is playing extremely against type as the sex-hungry dentist.  It's been a while since Aniston was in a movie that displayed her talents well enough to be worth your time.  Megan suggested that this was perhaps a jump-the-shark moment for Aniston's career, but honestly Aniston has been in such a rut of lame romantic comedies over the past few years (the only worthwhile of the bunch being "The Switch," also with Jason Bateman) that it's nice that she can prove she's still got something besides her scorchin' good looks.

Jamie Foxx's brief turn as Motherfucker Jones is also quite noteworthy, especially when he tells the story of how he came to be called Motherfucker Jones.  He gets a lot of laughs out of doing simple little things like sipping out of a straw and making a funny face.  Along with Foxx, Colin Farrell gets the least amount of screentime, but he also has some great moments, ragging on his underlings and spending his days screwing Asian massage prostitutes in his office.  He also gets a good bit in the end credits gag reel, which promises some deleted scenes that will undoubtedly be included on an 'unrated' DVD release (much like the solid but disappointing "Bad Teacher" - but at least "Horrible Bosses" is a better film on its own than that one).

Of course, the real show-stopping performance here is "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" star Charlie Day, who consistently gets the best and biggest laughs in the entire film.  Without Day's lovably absurd performance, "Horrible Bosses" wouldn't be nearly as good as it is and I hope to see Day getting more headlining performances like this one.  Every scene he's in, he owns.  He works so well off of Bateman and Sudeikis while simultaneously blowing both of them out of the water.  So many of his scenes are just too funny, even describing them here wouldn't nearly work.  Like many comedies, you just have to see it to believe it. But Day is a talented, hilarious performer and I'm looking forward to seeing where his career goes.

"Horrible Bosses" is a fine, funny comedy.  While not quite up to the constant, gut-busting hilarity of "Bridesmaids," it's still one of the better comedies this year, far outpacing the lackluster cash-in "Hangover, Part II" and the solid but unremarkable "Bad Teacher."  With a great cast and lots of hilarious situations, "Horrible Bosses" is well worth your time.

See Also
The Hangover, Part II
Bad Teacher