Have you ever had a bad boss? Do you have one now? Have you ever just wanted to kill the slimy bastard? In the entertaining dark comedy Horrible Bosses, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis devise a seemingly foolproof plan to eliminate their bosses (played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell) from this world. Of course, foolproof plans conducted by fools are doomed to fail.
Nick (Bateman) works under the fiery eye of Dave Harken (Spacey), who has been denied a big promotion and is lambasted for being two minutes late to work - at 6am. Dale (Day) is an engaged dental assistant who is constantly sexually harassed by his sexy but maniacal boss (Aniston). And Kurt (Sudeikis) is now forced to work for his crack-and-prostitute-abusing boss (Farrell), who hates all people, especially fatties and cripples.
Horrible Bosses is an amusingly funny film that toys with the dark side of comedy but never embraces its potential - at least not fully. Given the situations the characters get themselves into, the movie could and should have spiraled deeper into the rabbit hole. The result is a dark comedy for mainstream audiences; it has bite but no edge.
Still, the movie's fast-paced story, zany situations and goofy characters combine for an entertaining experience. It's no Hangover, but its aspirations to be are adequate enough. Bateman, Day and Sudeikis have great chemistry together. Their characters are annoyingly dumb and overly chatty, but their constant banter works more often than not.
Day is at once the film's most annoying character and the funniest, but both Bateman and Sudeikis complement his grating qualities nicely. The real scene-stealers, however, are the bosses. The actors do a great job of playing against type, especially Farrell as a balding psychopath of a boss. Unfortunately, Farrell gets the least screen time, but Spacey is deliciously evil (though ultimately just over-the-top evil) and Aniston is hilarious - and sexy.
Jamie Foxx is also very funny in a supporting role.
Unlike in The Hangover, the protagonists don't have very well developed characters. I didn't really care what happened to them, but I did care that the bosses got what they asked for. This approach is unintentionally wise; without fleshing out the leads, it's easier to accept that these three seemingly normal men would decide to kill their bosses. Still, it's hard to comprehend the men's situations driving them to murder.
As is, Horrible Bosses is an entertaining and at times laugh-out-loud comedy that has enough goofy moments and scene-chomping performances to make it worth it. But the movie never realizes its full potential, which keeps it from the upper echelon of the genre. Still, recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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