The great thing about the movies is that we get to see things that would NEVER happen in real life. No matter how fantastic, far-fetched or unrealistic the scenario – film can make it happen. More than that, there is often something about film that really portrays the human condition. Comedies in particular most often embody the “everyman” quality to which most people can relate. Horrible Bosses is one such movie. Even if your boss isn’t horrible, we’ve all had a job that we’ve hated at one point in our lives. The movie perfectly depicts the sheer hell of an unpleasant workplace, and the main characters are they types of Average Joes we can all root for. The movie tells the story of three friends with bosses that are so hellacious that the only way they can live a peaceful, happy life is to get rid of them. Permanently.
Before we can see what gives rise to the ultimate act of employee vengeance, we need to see just how bad things have to be for an employee to actually murder his boss. Friends Nick (Jason Bateman, Couples Retreat) Kurt, (Jason Sudeikis, Hall Pass), and Dale (Charlie Day, Going the Distance) don’t just dislike their bosses, they endure daily torture. Kurt actually liked his original boss, but when he dies and the man’s cokehead son (Colin Farrell, Pride and Glory) takes over the company, things take a turn for the worst. Nick’s boss is Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), a heartless a-hole and merciless dictator. Part of the reason Nick has remained at the company for so long is because he assumes that he’s in line for a big promotion. Like many worker bees, Nick eats crap at the job because he thinks it’ll pay off in the long run. But when Harken absorbs the new position into his already existing responsibilities, giving it to no one, Kurt reaches his limit. Harken is so mean that he wouldn’t even give Nick a few hours off to visit his grandmother on her deathbed. Lucifer himself would have to give the nod to Harken.
What’s nearly as terrible as a Cokehead Cretan for a boss or the meanest S.O.B. in the world? How about a Maneater? At first blush it seems that Dale’s horrible boss isn’t so bad. What straight man wouldn’t mind being complimented by an attractive woman at work, even if she’s your boss, right? Wrong. It’s not just inappropriate, it’s illegal. Jennifer Aniston as Dr. Julia Harris takes things to a new level. Despite the fact that Dales is engaged, Julia repeatedly makes sexual advances towards him at work, threatening to tell his fiancé that they “sealed the deal,” unless he actually goes through with it. While performing a dental procedure on him the first week he was hired, she sedated him and posed him in lascivious positions. As a matter of fact, I think she actually slept with him while in that state. That’s rape, not exactly a laughing matter although it is played that way in the movie.
You might ask, why don’t they just quit? The movie addresses that. While discussing that very possibility at the local bar, they run into an unemployed old friend who has resorted to giving hand jobs in the men’s room to make ends meet. That scares them enough to not go quitting all willy-nilly. Plus Harken tells Kurt that if he quits he’ll essentially make sure that he’ll never work in this town again. Who can afford to start from scratch at their age? Not many people. So, while the initial idea to eradicate the higher ups started in jest, things quickly take a serious turn and the guys hire Jamie Foxx to help them pull it off. What follows is a pretty funny attempt to commit the perfect crime in order to live a life of happiness. It’s not very realistic, but the actors have great comedic timing and it works for the most part. An SNL alum, Sudeikis could probably do this in his sleep. Jason Bateman continues his career resurgence and also has a great rapport with the other actors in the movie. Finally, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston were hilariously mean and raunchy. I’ll bet they had a lot of fun making this movie.
Horrible Bosses had a lot of funny moments. I’d say that it was on par with the Hangover 2, but not as funny as Bridesmaids, in my opinion. There weren’t a lot of gross-out moments, and I appreciated that. Things got a little silly at one point, but it didn’t detract from the overall comedic value of the movie. Is it the can’t miss comedy hit of the summer? I wouldn’t say all that, but it’s pretty damn funny and has a good cast. Well worth the cost of admission.
This article first appeared at www.poptimal.com and was reprinted with permission.