"Bosses" Saves The Day

Review: Horrible Bosses

The raunchy comedies of 2011 have been mostly swings and misses thanks to lifeless entries like “Hall Pass” and “Bad Teacher.” Even the much-ballyhooed “The Hangover Part II” just barely lived up to its expectations by essentially repeating all the jokes from “The Hangover Part I.”

Fortunately for all of us who like the brow of our comedy to be unmistakably low comes “Horrible Bosses” to save the day. Ignoring the lousy title, this riotous dark-comedy is elevated by a strong cast and while it might not be a homerun, it is certainly a worthy double off of the left-field wall.

The movie knowingly swipes its premise from “Strangers on a Train” as three best buds (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and Jason Sudeikis of “Saturday Night Live”) suffer cruel and unusual torment at the hands of their respective bosses and decide that the only way out is murder.

Bateman toils under the watchful eye of Kevin Spacey who chews the scenery as one of corporate America’s most psychotic and unhinged byproducts.

Day works as a dental assistant who is relentlessly sexually harassed by his boss played by Jennifer Aniston. Perhaps the greatest feat pulled off by “Horrible Bosses” is to make sexual harassment by Aniston appear to be unwelcome and uncomfortable. Bravo.
Sudeikis is in the best position as a manager at a chemical company, that is until his kindly old boss (played by Donald Sutherland) dies and is replaced by his cocaine-fueled, morally-deviant son, played complete with a rockin’ comb-over by Colin Farrell.

Most of the comedy of “Horrible Bosses” comes from watching our white-bread heroes incompetently plot and scheme three murders. Only the hopelessly dorky would try to find a hit man by consulting their car’s navigation service.
The boys do receive some assistance in the criminal arts from Jamie Foxx who gets to flex his comedic muscles and makes the most of his limited screen time.

Director Seth Gordon does his best with the convoluted plot, but the sheer weight of the thing threatens to crush the entire enterprise on more than one occasion (once again, as what seems to be my constant lament, a good 15 minutes trimmed from the movie’s runtime would have done wonders).

Fortunately though, this cast is loaded with canny actors who know their way around a comedy. Bateman’s deadpan, Day’s manic energy and Sudeikis’ sharp tongue form one of the most potent comedic triple-threats we’ve seen in some time.
In a scene where they are snooping around Farrell’s apartment you get a sense of what the Three Stooges might be doing were they alive and well here in the 21st Century.

As for our villainous bosses, you can tell that that it must be a whole lot of fun to be bad. Spacey is, as always, a force to be reckoned with. Farrell shows off some surprisingly decent comedy chops, although he does seem to be overreaching a time or two. And Aniston turns in one of the boldest performances of her career as her dogged pursuit of the hapless Day sets the lewd and crude benchmark for the entire film.

“Horrible Bosses” (again, I’m not in love with the title) is most definitely not a movie for the easily offended or those with delicate sensibilities, but for those of us who don’t mind our comedies diving headlong into the gutter, it just might be the funniest movie of the summer.

“Horrible Bosses” is rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material.

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