Seth Gordon’s Horrible Bosses appeals to a common sentiment many of us has had once or twice as the film deals with three working stiffs who simply want to clock in, do their job, clock out and kick back at home.
Unfortunately, they each have to contend with supervisors who are, on a good day, maniacal, and, on a bad one, homicidal. Nick (Jason Bateman) has been putting in 14-hour days in the hopes of scoring a prime promotion. Unfortunately, he works for a master manipulator (Kevin Spacey) who’s just stringing him along. Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) has a good position at a chemical factory, having been taken under the wing of the company’s benevolent boss (Donald Sutherland). But as fate would have it, the old man has a heart attack, leaving his sex-and-cocaine-addicted son (Colin Farrell) to run it. Dale (Charlie Day) works as a dental assistant and has to endure the daily predatory advances of his supervisor (Jennifer Aniston), a situation that engenders little sympathy from his pals.
The script offers plausible reasons why each can’t leave their jobs and leads logically to the moment where these three decide to kill each other’s bosses so that they cannot be connected to the murders. However, once they set out to plot the triple homicide, the film starts to lose steam. Extended sequences in which they break into two houses and rifle through the contents of each, looking for any sort of information that might help them execute their plan, run far too long and contain gags we’ve seen executed better in other films. The movie flirts with righting itself with a couple of clever plot twists but these are ultimately undercut by an ending that is far too neat. We’re left with a feeling of incompletion and dissatisfaction.
Overall, the cast is game with the chemistry between Bateman, Sudeikis and Day being quite good as they create a modern-day Three Stooges vibe that generates more than its share of laughs. Spacey has great fun hamming it up for the screen, Aniston has never been sexier and Jamie Foxx steals every scene he’s in as the trio’s murder consultant.
In the end, Horrible Bosses is a movie that doesn’t demand much from its audience and in turn, delivers just as much. As one of the characters says, “In order to win a marathon, you have to be prepared to put band-aids on your nipples.” Sage advice to be sure and something Gordon should have adhered to, as it’s obvious his film is without band-aids..
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