Bosses. You can’t work with them, and your job doesn’t afford you enough time to plot their miserable demise.
Most people can handle the day-to-day interactions with their hierarchical superiors. Sure, bosses can give you a good bollocking when you miss that all important deadline, but they make mistakes too. After all, they’re only human, aren’t they?
Not in Horrible Bosses. Kevin Spacey, Colin Farell and Jennifer Aniston play three very different, very inhuman employers who make their workers’ lives hell. The employees in question are Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, who bear the brunt of ther bosses’ quirky management styles with professionalism. That is until one particularly hard day at the office (or dentist’s surgery) leads the three to enter into a pact to remove their workplace tormentors for good. Horrible Bosses is Hollywood high concept at its best: “Disgruntled employees plot to kill their horrible bosses – hilarity ensues”. A perfect one-line pitch.
It might seem a strange move that, in a film starring a plethora of A-listers – we haven’t even mentioned Donald Sutherland and Jamie Foxx yet (although, now we have) – the central trio of Bateman, Sudeikis and Day should take the majority of the screentime. But herein lies Horrible Bosses‘ genius…
The tormented employees are very much a modern-day Three Stooges as they bumble their way through plotting to kill their bosses with the help of ‘murder consultant’ Jamie Foxx and a few too many Law & Order episodes. Bateman is Nick Hendrick’s, a hard-working, seemingly level-headed, spineless office mule, a role that the actor perfected so well as Michael Bluth on the amazing Arrested Development. Jason Sudeikis plays Kurt Buckman, an air-headed, street-dumb chemical company worker whose relationship with his boss (Keither Sutherland) is perfect until his untimely death brings about a change in management.
But star of the trio has to be helium-voiced Pesci-lite Charlie Day. As dental assistant Dale Arbus, Day is trapped, due to his criminal record for public urination, in every man’s worst nightmare – the relentless advances of a nymphomaniac Jennifer Aniston. In fact, much of Day’s ‘intimate’ altercations with his boundary-crossing boss make for the film’s biggest laughs. Those and his hilarious turn after the accidental ingestion of a large quantity of cocaine. Which brings me on to the bosses…
With the annoying necessities of plot and character arcs being taken on by Bateman and co, the A-listers have scope to have a little fun with their roles. Colin Farrell’s cokehead tool (a stretch?) Bobby Pellitt plays perfectly on the star’s bad boy image. That star has some remarkably un-PC lines at the beginning of the film, when he becomes Kurt’s kung-fu obsessed, prostitute-loving boss but thankfully disappears fairly soon from view as the story progresses. Unfortunately some of his funniest lines ended up on the editing room floor (finding their way back into the credits’ outtakes sequence), but much more of Bobby Pellitt and the audience would have wanted him dead too.
Kevin Spacey is always a brilliant psycho and here he basically reprises the role he played in Swimming With Sharks, this time as cat-loving psycho-in-a-suit Dave Harken, Nick’s prime tormentor. Starting off a mere manipulative bastard, Spacey ups the ante to lunatic with a trademark sneer to become the arch-villain of the piece. His peanut allergy could prove his undoing, but heaven help anyone who looks at his hot wife.
The hands-down star of the show is Jennifer Aniston, whose against-type sex-obsessed dentist is simply hilarious. Her aggressive advances towards Day’s Dale turn inane workplace banter (Do you know Gossip Girl, Dale?) into the most filthy sexual harassment ever ‘endured’ by one man (poor bloke – my heart bleeds). The filth that springs from The Good Girl’s lips will do no harm to her career (or DVD sales) whatsoever. In fact, it’s this dirty mouth that will thrust Aniston back in to many men’s ‘Top 5 Celebrities’ lists with a bullet. Filthy.
The central trio’s Larry, Curly and Moe impression may get a little wearisome by the last reel, but Horrible Bosses is a terrific dark comedy with plenty of unwholesome laughs. True, it might be a really far-fetched that anyone should want to murder a randy Jeniffer Aniston, but Spacey and Farrell’s characters are definitely candidates for a friendly homicide or two. And if this film will be remembered for anything, it’ll be the wonderful imagery that Aniston’s naughty words conjure. Thank you.