Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses

2011, R, 98 min. Directed by Seth Gordon. Starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Donald Sutherland, Julie Bowen, P.J. Byrne, Wendell Pierce, Bob Newhart.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., July 8, 2011

This comedy counts on the fact that everyone has had at least one revenge fantasy about killing his or her boss, whether horrible or not, and is willing to fork over money to watch a movie in which fictional characters actually attempt the deed. That ought to be enough to get people to the theatre on opening weekend, but Horrible Bosses needs more than this universal premise to be considered for a tenure-track position. Also boasting a terrific cast, the movie is unable to parlay its abundance of comic talent into an abundance of original comedy. And many of the top talents (Sutherland and Newhart, for example) appear in only one sequence, or, in Oscar-winner Foxx’s case, two. The film mixes its dark comic theme with extremely raunchy details for an end result that evinces more uncomfortable titters than outright laughs. As for those titters, Aniston almost shows all of hers as a foul-mouthed dentist who sexually harasses her assistant Dale (Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Spacey retreads his brilliant work as a horrible boss in the piercing Hollywood comedy Swimming With Sharks. He plays the lying and manipulative boss of Nick (Bateman), whom he leads along with false intimations of a promotion. Kurt (Sudeikis) is happy at his job until his boss (Sutherland) suddenly dies and leaves his coke-fueled jerk of a son (Farrell, unrecognizable with a comb-over and American accent) to run the show. Oh, the problems well-employed white males face! So emasculated in the workplace are they that several gratuitous rape jokes are tossed into the mix and expected to slide down amiably. Old friends Nick, Dale, and Kurt meet regularly in a bar to commiserate about their troubles, which is where their half-baked idea of killing their bosses is hatched. They are three nitwits, however, and their plot keeps coming undone by their own idiocy. Director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Four Christmases) contributes little stylistically to the proceedings, other than to keep the plot moving forward. The film’s vulgar dialogue seems calculated to find a new low for R-rated comedies. When added altogether, Horrible Bosses gets the job done but is not recommended for advancement.

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Horrible Bosses, Seth Gordon, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Donald Sutherland, Julie Bowen, P.J. Byrne, Wendell Pierce, Bob Newhart

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