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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look40.48%
Average: 23.81%
Pretty Bad: 14.29%
Total Crap: 14.29%

5 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Horrible Bosses
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Dark comedy? More like off-white."
3 stars

One thing "Horrible Bosses" gets right is that it acknowledges how murderously difficult it is to find a job these days. That makes it almost unique among Hollywood films.

It also explains why its protagonists — Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day — want to stay in their jobs even though their respective bosses (reptilian CEO Kevin Spacey, cokehead chemical-company owner Colin Farrell, sexual-harassing dentist Jennifer Aniston) make their lives hell. They would enjoy their jobs, or at least not mind them, if not for these bosses. So they get the bright idea of removing the sources of their pain from the equation. In a smarter comedy, this would involve exquisite and elaborate planning and manipulation to outwit the bosses, get them fired, ruined, whatever. In this not-very-smart comedy, our heroes plot to murder the bosses.

The thin joke of the movie is that our boys, likable enough and basically moral, don’t have it in them to be killers. They’re not diabolical enough, and certainly not sociopathic enough. If they actually succeeded, we feel, remorse would strike them down. So despite the promise of the ads, Horrible Bosses is a comedy of goodness, or at least incompetent badness. What hurts is that it never takes off into the wild ozone (like, say, Throw Momma from the Train or The War of the Roses — Danny DeVito really should’ve directed this), nor is it grounded in much reality — it’s a middle-of-the-road farce, too timid to risk losing the audience by making the working lads cold-blooded either in murder or manipulation. It hovers in a banal dead zone. So we’re just watching a trio of idiots doing things that don’t amount to much.

The leads, and the bosses, provide fleeting pleasures. Kevin Spacey takes over the movie, so we don’t get enough of filthy-mouthed Aniston and especially comb-overed Farrell, who cheerfully uglifies himself and seems raring to give a classic wingnut performance. But he and Aniston are sidelined, and we spend a lot of time with Bateman, Sudeikis and Day as they snoop around the bosses’ homes. With one notable, brief exception, none of the bosses meets each other, which might’ve offered some laughs (imagine Spacey going under the gas in flirtatious Aniston’s chair). Jamie Foxx drops in for a couple of scenes as a “murder consultant” nicknamed Motherfucker Jones; he’s funny, but a late-inning revelation removes the bite from his performance.

There’s no bite anywhere else, either. We’re to understand that the guys feel so trapped in their situations their thoughts drift to murder, but none of them have families to worry about (Day’s character is engaged, though his fiancée is a drippy blank), and their predicaments seem inflated. They’re not easily replaceable in their jobs, though they’re never really shown to be good at their jobs, either. The sexual-harassment scenes are assumed to be funny because the genders are reversed, but they just come off as icky. Except for Spacey, who suspects his wife of cheating on him, the bosses have no dimensions other than their horribleness. And except for Day, who brings a frazzled hysteria to his character, the heroes are interchangeable stoics — two straight men.

There’s one small bit of screenwriting ingenuity involving Spacey and a cell phone that arises out of what has been written into him. The movie needed more of that — more fleshed-out characters, from whose motives and flaws a truly smart comedy could emerge. Here we just have a premise, and everyone involved seems to have found that funny enough and called it a day.

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originally posted: 07/11/11 09:25:56
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User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell funny imho 4 stars
9/03/12 Courtney Funny the whole way through. 5 stars
11/08/11 mr.mike Spacey's great , movie is consistently funny. 4 stars
7/24/11 Charles Tatum Foul mouthed and very funny 4 stars
7/19/11 damalc Dale wouldn't fuck Dr. Harris? Zero credibility. 4 stars
7/16/11 Jeff Wilder Puerile and crude. But funny. 3 stars
7/14/11 savvysweep1 Very funny movie 4 stars
7/12/11 Sean Just another reason I don't listen to talentless critics!!! 3 stars
7/12/11 Matt C Douchebag critics need a sense of humor. 5 stars
7/10/11 Cane Toad You have to be a joyless asshole to hate Charlie Day. 3 stars
7/10/11 Ashley So funny!!!!!!!! Its so stupid,but i truly enjoyed it. 5 stars
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  08-Jul-2011 (R)
  DVD: 11-Oct-2011


  DVD: 11-Oct-2011

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