Synopsis: Management candidate Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman) has been logging 12-hour days and eating everything his twisted supervisor Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) dishes out, toward the promise of a well-earned promotion. But now he knows that’s never going to happen. Meanwhile, dental assistant Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) has been struggling to maintain his self-respect against the relentless X-rated advances of Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S. (Jennifer Aniston), when she suddenly turns up the heat. And accountant Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) has just learned that his company’s corrupt new owner, Bobby Pellit (Colin Farrell), is not only bent on ruining his career but plans to funnel toxic waste into an unsuspecting population.
What can you do when your boss is a psycho, a man-eater or a total tool?
Quitting is not an option. These monsters must be stopped. So, on the strength of a few-too-many drinks and some dubious advice from a hustling ex-con whose street cred is priced on a sliding scale (Jamie Foxx), the guys devise a convoluted but foolproof plan to rid the world of their respective employers… permanently.
But even the best-laid plans are only as good as the brains behind them.
Release Date: July 8, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Dark Comedy
The only thing that would be better than being able to quit a terrible job would be for the worker to be able to kill their boss. It’s every McJob holder’s fantasy. It’s the American way. It’s a concept to which just about everyone in the country can relate. How can a filmmaker go wrong with that premise?
Horrible Bosses is the new film from television director Seth Gordon (who’s worked on just about every show on NBC’s Thursday night lineup, including “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation”). It is the story of three friends who are all having problems with their respective bosses at work. Nick (Jason Bateman from “Arrested Development”) has been slaving away while his boss, Mr. Harken (Kevin Spacey from American Beauty) dangles a promotion in front of him, only to pass him up when the time comes. Dale (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s” Charlie Day) is a dental assistant who is constantly putting up with sexual harassment from his boss, Dr. Julia Harris (“Friends'” Jennifer Aniston). Kurt (“Saturday Night Live” cast member Jason Sudeikis) actually likes Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland), his boss at the chemical factory where he works, until he is unexpectedly killed and his coke-head son Bobby (Colin Farrell from Miami Vice) takes over. Nick, Dale and Kurt cannot quit their jobs (for various convenient reasons), so they decide to rid themselves of the reasons why they are unhappy at work. Their quest for a hit-man leads them to a bar where they meet Dean “M-er F-er” Jones (Ray‘s Jamie Foxx), who gives them the idea to kill each other’s bosses, and even becomes their “murder coach.” Horrible Bosses follows the exploits of the three wannabe murderers as they try to plot and execute their plans.
Horrible Bosses has a scene where the characters compare their plot (and basically the movie) to Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (and, in the same breath, Danny DeVito’s Throw Mama from the Train). For having such a great setup, Horrible Bosses does not pack much punch. Its attempt at dark comedy is only dark because it involves a murder plot, and is only funny because of the cast. The story has a couple of good surprises and twists, but once those precious few moments come and go, the viewer is left wondering what more could have been done with such a great idea for a movie.
The only reason Horrible Bosses works at all is because of the cast. The most comedic bits of the film all seem to be improvised by the actors. Bateman, Day and Sudeikis have chemistry and a rhythm that cannot be faked. They share almost all of their screen time together, and they play off of each other so well that the viewer actually believes that they’re best friends. Spacey is the perfect villain, and Farrell plays the perfect douche bag. Both of them really sell how terrible their characters are as people, and the audience hates them for it. Aniston’s Julia is not quite as wretched as the other two antagonists, but she plays her part as the man-eating tramp to a T. The entire ensemble of Horrible Bosses keeps the movie from being, well, horrible.
With the concept behind the film and the cast that is involved, Horrible Bosses should be a lot funnier. The script as written is mildly amusing at its best and downright embarrassing at its worst. There are laughs here and there, but there’s never a moment where the audience is laughing so hard that they miss the next few lines of dialogue. For example, there is a scene where Dale accidentally gets high on cocaine and Kurt purposely locks him out of the car while he and Nick discuss the plan. Dale tries to break into the car while the other two go on with their conversation. In a good comedy, the audience would be laughing so hard at Dale’s attempts to smash the car’s windows with his feet that they wouldn’t be able to make out the conversation inside the car. In Horrible Bosses, the audience hears every word. With so many of the participants’ backgrounds being in improvisational television, the film may have benefitted if Seth Gordon had just let the actors go a little more than he did. Honestly, given their writing duties on their respective shows, Day and Sudeikis probably could have turned out a screenplay that got more laughs.
Cast and Crew
- Producer(s): Michael MarkowitzJohn Francis DaleyJonathan Goldstein
- Screenwriter(s): Jason Bateman (Nick Hendricks)Kevin Spacey (Dave Harken)Charlie Day (Dale Arbus)
- Story: Jennifer Aniston (Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S.)
- Cast: Jason Sudeikis (Kurt Buckman)Donald Sutherland (Jack Pelitt)Colin Farrell (Bobby Pelitt) Peter TeschnerDavid HenningsShepherd Frankel
- Cinematographer: Christopher Lennertz
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA