Friday, March 16, 2012

Horrible Bosses

Directed by Seth Gordon.
2011. Rated R, 98 minutes.
Jason Bateman
Jason Sudeikis
Charlie Day
Kevin Spacey
Jennifer Aniston
Colin Farrell
Jamie Foxx
P. J. Byrne
Donald Sutherland

Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis), and Dale (Day) are three working stiffs and bestest buddies. Even though they work three separate jobs, each of them hates their boss. After a drunken night of hypotheticals they hatch the idea to kill their overbearing employers. They decide against it when sobriety kicks in. Of course, each then has the one experience that pushes them over the edge. Understandably, the plan is on. Now they just have to figure out how to pull off three murders without getting caught.

Our would-be killers are all solid characters. They take turns bringing the funny. Kurt is the most consistent of the three. He strikes a nice balance between the hyperactive Dale and the somewhat bland Nick. Each actor performs solidly in their roles. Because of them, we like these guys despite watching them in the midst of plotting some heinous acts. It helps that they’re not so savvy criminals. We know when they’re getting scammed. We see them make dumb mistakes.

However, the real strength of this film is in the casting of the bosses. Colin Farrell’s sweaty, balding, kung fu obsessed cokehead is priceless. Kevin Spacey gives us a smug, arrogant jerk like only he can. Yes, they’re both over the top but that’s what is needed to ensure our hatred of them. It also makes us laugh at them. They represent a case of the ridiculous actually working.

As good as Farrell and Spacey are, neither holds a candle to the Hitchcock inspired choice for the movie’s lone female boss. Let me explain. For most of Jimmy Stewart’s career he was as clean cut and wholesome as they come. His everyman looks and “gee willikers” demeanor made him feel like a slice of apple pie brought to life. He was the walking embodiment of Americana. Then came Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Vertigo. Stewart is decidedly against type in both, a sexual deviant. Essentially, he’s a peeping tom in the former and a stalker in the latter. In HB, the corrupted All-American is Jennifer Aniston, the ultimate girl next door. Although she’s been oft criticized for being vanilla, there have been scenes in other movie’s where she’s acted provocatively. Here, that’s her entire role. More than provocative, she’s downright trashy. She says lots of things you might only hear in videos on those websites you’re not supposed to visit at work. She nails every nasty line. For my money, it’s 2011’s best female comedic performance (yes, I saw Bridesmaids). The legion of men who already drool over her will either be thrown into overdrive or completely turned off by her walk on the dark side.

Aniston’s new-found sluttiness aside, the movie sinks or swims with its premise. It’s a solid one. The plot surrounding it unfolds well enough with a nice twist, here and there. When the bosses aren’t on the screen, the jokes are hit-and-miss, so it’s not a comic masterpiece. It is fun, has some real laugh-out-loud moments and some terrific work by its cast.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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