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Jul102011

Horrible Bosses review - The Hangover meets middle management

Have you ever wanted to kill your boss? We've all thought, abstractly, about how great it would be if we were Mister Manager for a day or, at least, what it might be like if our supervisor wasn't such a bag of douche. How great would that be? Unfortunately, for most of us, it ain't gonna happen. The world of middle management is full of imbeciles, psychopaths, and jackasses (and a few really great people). Some bosses are completely lazy and do nothing at all, while others rule the office with their own unique brand of tyranny. The management in Horrible Bosses is as bad as it gets. Unfortunately for Nick Hendricks, Dale Arbus, and Kurt Buckman, it's a lot harder to kill your boss than you'd think.

Heroes and villains

Yep, it comes down to murder. These guys want to kill their bosses. Why? Well let's break down our star-studded cast.

Jason Bateman is Nick Hendricks. Like Arrested Development's Michael Bluth, Nick has been working his ass off for more than a decade, paying his dues at a Wall Street-like office run by Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), a completely insane boss who gets off on manipulating and overworking his sales staff, starting with Hendricks. He's the kind of workaholic executive you think went extinct after the Cocaine-fueled 1980s finally gave way to the Clinton years, and he's convinced that his wife is cheating on him. 

Charlie Day is Dale Arbus. Dale is a dental assistant and sexual deviant thanks to an incident back in college where he peed in a playground after a lot of drinking. "It was a playground next to a bar; that's entrapment!!" he screams in that manic tone we fans of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia can't get enough of. Dale loves his fiancee, but his boss, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), is blackmailing him into having sex with her. 

Jason Sudeikis is Kurt Buckman. Yes, there are still people named Kurt out there. Kurt's boss Jack Pellit, played by Donald Sutherland, is the nicest CEO ever. That is until he dies at the beginning of the movie and is replaced by his crazy cokehead son Bobby Pellit, who has a terrible case of the comeover. Bobby immediately tries to squeeze profits from the company so he can buy hookers and cocaine, ordering Kurt to fire handicapped and pregnant employees. What a winner.

Somehow, it works

So that's the setup. Though I don't usually condone killing and wouldn't usually side with a group of guys who plot to kill their bosses, I have to say, the movie kept me conveniently on the fence, content to see how this all plays out before I make any rash jumps to judgement. Call it a win for Director Seth Gordon and the rewrite of the script by John Francis Daley (he played the Geek in Freaks & Geeks!) and Jonathan M. Goldstein, because Horrible Bosses keeps you on your toes and in the now so much that you just laugh at the murder, sex, and bad things going on. Maybe it's how nice and lovable Bateman, Day, and Sudeikis are as the "good guys" or maybe its how convincingly twisted Spacey and Aniston are as the bosses, but I completely bought the insane premise and loved as the whole shebang spiralled out of control, as bad deeds usually do. If your boss decided to hire himself as the new sales manager just so he could double the size of his office and screw you over, wouldn't you want to kill him? I'm with Jason Bateman on this one. 

The only weak link is Colin Ferrell, who gets more laughs when they tour his house of douchebaggery than he ever does onscreen. His place is full of asian statues and other overly masculine objects like fooseball tables and  Can't somebody make a sequel to The Recruit to keep him busy please? At least we'd have Al Pacino to distract us from his bland prescence. 

It's like The Hangover, in a good way

Horrible Bosses is kind of like The Hangover. It has a broad Hollywood premise we can all relate with (who doesn't hate their boss?) and follows a three guys as they try and cope with a bad situation that keeps getting worse. One of the reasons The Hangover works so well is how down to earth and shocked its trio of bros are when every new bad thing happens to them and how funny Zach Galifianakis is when you let him loose. Horrible Bosses lifts this structure, planting the awesome funny jokes on Charlie Day's character, who isn't quite the kitten mitton salesman he is in It's Always Sunny, but does watch a lot of Law & Order. Bateman is clearly present to give the story some emotional credibility, and Sudeikis provides his share of laughs. It's hard to say exactly what Sudeikis brings to the table in any film. He has a sharp comedic timing, but his characters always seem like entertaining filler. Have you ever met a hardcore fan of Jason Sudeikis? I mean, really? Having said that, perhaps I need to get out more. His career is taking off, after all, and he was quite funny here. Throw in some fun cameos from Jamie Foxx and Steve Wiebe (former Donkey Kong champion) and it all works pretty well. I had a blast seeing this movie and I'd gladly watch it again. 

As a warning, I must admit that I did see Horrible Bosses with four friends and every one of them fell asleep. I'm fairly certain this had more to do with the many margaritas they had been drinking beforehand and the 12:20 a.m. showtime we attended, but I've done my civic duty nonetheless. They all enjoyed what parts they did see, but it was me who told them all how great it was, as the lone member who was not drunk or tired. With that said, if you treat yourself like a Gremlin and see Horrible Bosses sober and before midnight, I predict you will not fall asleep and, like me, will have a damn good time. 

Rating:  (Good)

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