Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Title: Horrible Bosses
Could This Be The Rebirth Of Jennifer Aniston? I suppose, if she's being reborn as a deranged nymphomaniac. And who has a problem with that?
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three-and-a-half pairs of nunchucks out of five.
Tagline: "Ever Wish Your Boss Was Dead?"
Better Tagline: "More Rape Jokes Than A Japanese Video Game."
Brief Plot Synopsis: A trio of lifelong friends conspire to knock off their, well, 'horrible' bosses with the help of a shady "murder consultant" (Jaime Foxx).
How Great Is Charlie Day In This? Pretty great. Aniston plays against type, sure, and Jason Bateman gives us another of his umpteen variations on Michael Bluth. But it's Day (as harassed dental assistant Dale) who kills just about every scene he's in, confirming what fans of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia have know for a while now: he's a wild card, bitches!
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale all have problems with their bosses. Nick's is a sadistic bastard who works Nick to the bone for the chance at a promotion that will never come (Kevin Spacey, more or less riffing on Swimming with Sharks' Buddy Ackerman). Kurt loved his old boss, until he died and left the company to his dipshit cokehead son (Colin Ferrell), and Dale is forced to fend off the increasingly aggressive dentist he works for (Aniston). Through an unlikely chain of events, they enlist the services of murder consultant Motherfucker Jones (Foxx), who sets the three against each other's tormentors, the better to allay suspicions.
"Critical" Analysis: I felt like I should like Horrible Bosses less than I did. Not because of the unmistakable vein of cruelty that runs through the movie (good comedy is often mean), but because - I almost hate to say it - it isn't really cruel enough. A movie about multiple employer murder has the potential to be a terrifically black comedy, but they never go the distance.
Sure, our protagonists are mostly unlikable: Nick has been working like a coolie the better part of a decade, all because his admittedly psychotic boss promised him a VP slot. Kurt may be a diligent assistant to his beloved Mr. Pellit (Donald Sutherland), but he's also an inveterate horndog (plus Jason Sudeikis comes across as an asshole no matter what he's doing). Nick at least should've seen the writing on the wall back when the economy was strong, but now he and Kurt are screwed (a fact driven home by a former schoolmate, now unemployed, and forced to perform...certain acts to stay afloat).
The only sympathetic character, really, is Dale. He's a nice guy who's damned if he does or doesn't nail Dr. Harris (Aniston), who threatens to tell his fiancée they did the deed if he doesn't succumb to her advances. Dale's situation is different only in that it may not seem like much of a dilemma to some: have sex with the hot woman you work for or lose your job. Nick and Kurt react like those guys who read news stories about teenage boys sleeping with their adult teachers and say, "Where was she when I was in high school? Haw!"
Which brings us back to the rape jokes.
I must be lagging in comedy trends. First I missed the boat on full frontal male nudity, now I'm just catching up on sexual assault humor. I assume the theory behind the preponderance of them here is...they're all directed at guys? So that's okay? I dunno. Sometimes it works (Dr. Harris calling Dale "Jodie Foster" when he freaks out at compromising photos she took of him while he was sedated), sometime...not so much (Nick and Kurt comparing their prison "rapeability"). It could've been dialed back, is all I'm saying.
Because honestly, Horrible Bosses is pretty goddamned funny. Not just for Spacey's consummate prickitude or Day's inspired hysteria, but Colin Farrell surprises as the combover sporting Bobby, who fancies tiger imagery and kung fu, and Foxx descends from his post-Ray ego cloud long enough to deliver a subtly amusing performance.
As for Aniston, I admit it's initially surprising to hear the rom-com queen deliver lines like, "I'm a squirter" and "Your dick wasn't even hard." And there's no denying she's enjoying doing this 180 from her usual movie persona, I just couldn't buy in all the way. It isn't entirely her fault, but she doesn't bring the crazy quite as convincingly as Spacey and Farrell.
See It/Rent It/Skip It: See it, if for no other reason than to give Wendell "Bunk" Pearce a little extra love now that the second season of Treme is over.
Horrible Bosses is in theaters today. Why not roll on down to the theater in your special little chair, Professor Xavier?
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events