637 – Horrible Bosses (***)


Yes, that's Jennifer Aniston. Image from Movie Vortex.
We’ve all had them, although not quite the way these guys do. Mean boss-bullies. What looked at first to be another dopey Office Space wannabe turned out to be pretty hysterical in places. Part of it’s the script, but a lot of it is in the casting. Think of it as more than Office Space – it’s Office Space with the piquant aftertaste of The Hangover.

Nick (Jason Bateman) has one of those tyrannical hate-everyone bosses (Kevin Spacey). Kurt’s (Jason Sudeikis) boss is a coked-up freak (Colin Farrell). Dale (Charlie Day) has an oversexed maneater (Jennifer Aniston, playing way against type). Each for his own reason has issues. And, for reasons not necessary to reveal here, they conclude that each supervisor must be killed off.

I liked this movie. For one thing, I could – as I’m sure many people can – identify easily with each of the main characters to some extent. They were relatable, not caricatures. I mean, sure, they sort of leap to the conclusion rather quickly that murder should be committed, but that’s just nitpicking. You buy into the premise, you take what you get.

It’s a well-cast film. Bateman surprised me a great deal. When I heard he was to be in this movie, I assumed he’d be one of the bosses, because he’s lately played so many smarmy jerks. But not here – here, he’s the sensible one, and he gets some of the best lines in the movie. Delivery is flawless. Sudeikis I could do without, but he does add some smarm of his own, thus offsetting Nick’s niceness rather neatly. But for me the best was Charlie Day, who’s best known for his role on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He’s a manic panic and a true comic find. I hope this turns out to be a bit of a breakout role for him.

The bosses are also interestingly cast. I mean, I always pictured Aniston as a goody two-shoes. That’s the image, right? The good girl who meets cute with someone? Oh, not here. So not here. Here she’s about as X rated as you can get. And she’s stunningly good at it, too. Doesn’t even feel like she’s playing a role. Spacey is essentially playing the same role he had in Swimming with Sharks, only even nastier, and of course he’s up to the task. Farrell gets the short end of the stick; he gets limited screen time, but that’s okay.

Horrible Bosses offers plenty of madcap fun at an R-rated level without stooping to poop jokes. A nice switch, wouldn’t you say? I mean, it’s not Henry V, but at least it’s not Freddy Got Fingered. It’s at the right intelligence level – you can veg out and enjoy it without feeling the least bit ashamed.

Horrible Bosses: ***

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