By Linc Leifeste | July 8, 2011
Director: Seth Gordon
Writers: Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein
Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis
It seems that manhood’s no easy burden to bear in this modern world we live in. As Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman) relates in an early voice-over in Horrible Bosses, his grandmother came to this country with only $20 to her name and after working hard her whole life died with not much more. The reason she didn’t get ahead, Nick opines, is that she didn’t kiss any ass and that’s not a mistake that he’s interested in repeating. So despite being disrespected, manipulated, and derided by his boss, Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), Nick dutifully soldiers on in hopes of getting the big promotion that is being dangled enticingly just out of his reach. After cruelly being passed over for the promotion, Nick momentarily daydreams of taking physical revenge before settling for verbally confronting Harken about his tyrannical behavior and threatening to quit. Sadly, his moment of willful self-determination is as short-lived as it is futile as Harken lets him know that he’ll make sure that Nick never finds work again if he dares quit.
Luckily, Nick doesn’t have to suffer alone as his drinking buddies Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) find themselves in equally dire straights. Kurt’s formerly contented work-life as an account manager at a small chemical company is suddenly turned on it’s head when his beloved boss Jack Pellitt (Donald Sutherland) suddenly dies, leaving the company in the hands of his cocaine-addled and incompetent son Bobby (Colin Farrell). And Dale’s life as a dental assistant is quickly becoming unbearable due to the relentless sexual harassment of his gorgeous boss, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), a problem that Nick and Kurt have a hard time sympathizing with.
Over drinks one night this emasculated male trio hatch the idea of killing off each other’s bosses. Why not just find new jobs, you ask? Without giving away a pretty funny plot point, Dale has a criminal record that makes him virtually unemployable. And as the other two are considering quitting, an old pal who formerly worked for Lehman Brothers makes an appearance seeking money. It seems the employment opportunities are so scarce he’s been unable to find work long-term and has now been reduced to giving hand-jobs in the men’s room for cash. After this encounter, murder strikes the three as their best option. Realizing they don’t have the nerve or knowledge to pull off a triple murder themselves they decide they need a professional hit-man. Enter MotherFucker Jones (Jamie Foxx in a hilarious performance channeling his inner Samuel Jackson), who it turns out is more of a con-man than a hit-man and ends up being their “murder consultant.”
Despite it’s initial misleading moments, Horrible Bosses doesn’t quite play out as the black comedy I was hoping for. Unable to or uninterested in following through on its darkly sinister premise, the film instead quickyly changes gears and moves into a run of the mill comedy routine, jumping from (admittedly funny) comedy sketch to comedy sketch before closing up with it’s conveniently happy but illogical and unsatisfactory ending. Not to say that this movie isn’t good for a lot of laughs, because it is. The chemistry between the three leads is evident and their comic timing and chops can’t be questioned. But despite strong comedic performances by the leads and some brilliant over-the-top performances by the supporting cast, and even though the film delivers the laughs, Horrible Bosses is no comedic gem. The rather thin plot is completely implausible and the weak finale fails to live up to the promising early moments of the film.