Rating: R (Sexual innuendo and content, drug references, and foul language)
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: July 8, 2011
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Stars: 4 out of 5
Many people love movies that feature seemingly normal characters that end up acting crazy. Work life is often the driving force that sends people off the deep end, hence the popularity of films such as “Nine to Five, “Clerks,” “Waiting,” and “Office Space.” “Horrible Bosses” offers a contemporary and hilarious story involving several long-suffering employees and their antics to strike back at their petty tyrant or inept bosses. Audiences will have no remorse for what happens to these supervisory and management types. Most will agree that they deserve everything that happens to them and more. People love underdogs, and many will see themselves in this film’s sympathetic-yet idiotic-crew of employees pushed too far.
Take the case of overworked and sleepy pushover Nick Hendricks played convincingly by Jason Bateman of “Arrested Development” fame. His horrible boss is slave driver Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey). He is an absolute control freak, who accounts for every minute of Hendricks’ extremely long days. Batemen’s portrayal is outstanding, as he literally appears to be winding up like a spring ready to snap at the right stress. Yet Batemen is very much the straightman. Spacey is the perfect complement, with his ironic and dry delivery of crazy demands. Most of the best scenes in the film involve him, including a rendition of a memorable scene from “Pulp Fiction.” Anyone that has seen that film can guess which scene that is, and it isn’t pretty.
In contrast to the uptight Mr. Harken is the party boy and coke addict Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell), who seems to not care that his lack of direction is running the family business into the gutter. He totally ignores the advice of veteran employee Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis). Buckman was a protégé of Pellitt’s father Jack (Donald Sutherland). It is appalling for him to watch the beloved company edge close to failure. Plus, he loathes the fact that Bobby runs ramshackle over environmental regulations, putting fast profits before safety and the law.
If there was ever an evil queen seductress in the field of dentistry, then Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston) is sure to be her. Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) is her often sexually harassed assistant. His tipping point comes when the snubbed Harris blackmails him, threatening to tell his fiancé they had been sleeping together. Although she does her best in the role-delivering cracking comedic lines-the “easy” or sex-crazed female character is getting old. Day is hilarious in his scenes with her. His voice changing from manly to a prepubescent squeak in the presence of Dr. Harris makes him an excellent counter to the more dry and reserved Bateman.
The three friends share their tales of woe with each other on a regular basis, and then one day, they joke about paying one another to take out each of their respective bosses. Many things that start in jest often come to fruition. The musketeers enlist the help of a shady gangster, Dean “M.F.” Jones (Jamie Foxx). One can sense that it’s only going to become crazier when Hendricks asks, “You found a hit man online?” Well, he’s not actually a hit man but more like a “murder consultant.” Although very good at their day jobs, the three boy wonders would not last long at Murderers R Us.
Some viewers may be put off by the lewd references that come up on a regular basis. This movie is funny and dirty. All but one of the “seven words not to be used on television” is uttered. It does make one wonder if it is possible to make a comedy about a group of men without using lots of vulgarity. The saving grace is the fact that this movie does not pretend to be anything but coarse, and the included dirty references are woven organically into the script. The three have an excellent and cohesive interplay among them and really do feel like buddies.
Anyone that has ever had to endure a hostile work environment will be sure to cheer and laugh heartily throughout the film. Here, the bosses get the pink slip, and the employees earn the benefits. The greatest strength of this film is the brilliant cast. Each boss and employee conflict is utterly believable. All of them have variations that allow the audience to pick one and imagine being in his or her shoes.