Early in my radio career, I worked for a station owner who seemed completely out of touch with what was going on in the business he had been in for over 30 years. He had me and my co-workers playing a mixture of music from numerous genres and decades. You might hear the Bee Gees followed by Hugo Montenegro followed by Garth Brooks. It was a mess of a format that would never work. I and the other jocks would often refer to the station at WREK, a wreck of a radio station. The mishmash of styles didn’t attract an audience, advertising dried up and he had to sell the stations. The new owners promptly fired everyone on staff and went to a satellite-delivered format. While I disagreed with my old boss vehemently over his programming ideas, I have to say I liked the man. He gave me a chance to work in various aspects of radio station operations and I learned a great deal. He was also a very decent and kind man. The same cannot be said for the three office leaders in this week’s movie “Horrible Bosses.”
Nick, Kurt and Dale (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) are friends who work for three horrendous bosses. Nick works at a financial firm for Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey). Dave treats everyone at the firm with contempt but reserves especially cruel treatment for Nick. Nick is hoping that his willingness to accept every insult and working every weekend will lead to a promotion into a recently vacated vice president’s position. Kurt works at a family owned chemical company run by Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland). Jack tells Kurt he may be running the company in the future, then promptly dies of a heart attack, leaving Jack’s cocaine-addicted, prostitute-using, politically incorrect son, Bobby (Colin Farrell), running the company. Jealous of the close relationship Kurt and Jack had, Bobby tells Kurt to fire the handicapped and fat people. If he refuses, Bobby will fire them and Kurt. Dale is a dental hygienist working for Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston). She’s a man eater who is constantly saying sexually inappropriate things to the recently engaged Dale. She has even taken compromising photos of she and Dale while he was under the influence of laughing gas and threatens to show them to his fiancé unless he has sex with her. While comparing how bad their bosses are at a bar, the three discuss the idea of killing their bosses. Nick thinks its just frustration and the booze talking, but Kurt and Dale are serious. They try to hire a hitman at a seedy bar on the bad side of town. They meet Dean “MF” Jones (Jamie Foxx), a con on parole after serving a 10 year sentence. He seems to offer to kill the three bosses for $5,000, but changes his story once he has the money, becoming the three friend’s murder consultant. He suggests they kill each other’s bosses. Since none of the killers will have a motive, it will be more difficult for the cops to solve. Once they put their plan in motion, nothing goes right and a dropped cell phone threatens to derail everything.
“Horrible Bosses” is a crude, vulgar comedy that is hilarious. I’ve seen crude, vulgar comedies that weren’t funny and they can be painful. Fortunately, this film has all the elements in all the proper proportions.
First, let me admit that I’ve always had a crush on Jennifer Aniston. Ever since she walked into Monica’s apartment wearing a rain-soaked wedding gown on “Friends,” I’ve always thought she was beautiful. She also occupies space number one on my list of celebrities I’m allowed to sleep with and accrue no penalty from my wife. The little woman has a list also, so we’re good. Aniston is a joy to watch, playing completely against type as the voracious, sexually-charged dentist. Charlie Day is the perfect foil for her sexual predator as his manic energy builds with every encounter. As she ratchets up the pressure, Day’s voice rises in pitch nearly to the point it could shatter glass. There were times I found his fidgety panic a little annoying; but mostly, he’s the whirling comic storm that circles the usually calmer center of Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis.
Both Jason’s have their moments where they shine as well, such as when Sudeikis uses Colin Ferrell’s characters’ toothbrush and other dental care items in ways that were not intended and when Bateman explains why he was caught speeding through a red light camera (I know you’ve seen that clip numerous times in the TV commercial, but it still plays well when you watch the film). We’ve seen Kevin Spacey play crazy guys with a sharp tongue before and he delivers the goods here as well; but, Colin Ferrell as the coke-head Bobby is a true revelation. Ferrell, wearing a fake gut and a bald cap with a comb-over, is nearly unrecognizable. Of the three bad bosses in the movie, Farrell is the king of the douche bags. His self-indulgence and intolerance make the audience want to volunteer to whack him. He’s not given nearly enough screen time, unlike Spacey and Anniston who seem to be in every other scene, and may find himself being offered more comedic roles. He should seriously consider the parts if the script is good. He seems more than willing to shed his sex symbol image for the right role.
“Horrible Bosses” is rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material. The drug material is mostly a scene at Bobby’s house involving cocaine, although the drug is mentioned several times. Nearly every scene involving Anniston will have a crude sexual component. There is some violence but it is limited while the foul language is laid on thick and frequently.
The entire cast seems to have been picked to play well together and make the movie a low-brow joy. While it may lack redeeming social value, “Horrible Bosses” does allow its audience to indulge in a little bit of “what if” fantasizing. While I hope no one in the crowd has every worked for anyone as sick and cruel as these three bosses, most of us may see some little sliver of familiarity with those folks we’ve worked for in the past. Go with a crowd of friends; laugh a lot, then compare work histories afterwards.
“Horrible Bosses” gets five guitars.
This week, the movie for which many of us have been waiting anxiously for a decade hits theatres. There’s also the last Harry Potter movie coming out this week as well. Vote for the film you’d like me to see and review next.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2—Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts for the epic final battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world.
Winnie the Pooh—Pooh and the rest of the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood go on a wild quest to save Christopher Robin from an imaginary culprit.
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film of his choice currently in theatres.
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
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