Horrible Bosses (Rated PG-13) 5 Stars
Well, Four Christmases sort of sucked, but Director Seth Gordon hits one out of the park with Horrible Bosses (100 minutes). And we have to assume it was good directing, because screenwriters Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan Goldstein are all TV people, and not hilarious TV either … the one guy wrote for Becker and the other guy wrote for $#*! My Dad Says. I mean, Daley is funny as an actor, but he has hardly any comedy writing experience.
Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman) works for Dave Harken (Kevin Spacy, channeling Lex Luthor). I would love to say that bosses this horrible don’t exist, but I once worked for someone who made me sit in a chair outside his office for two hours a day in case he suddenly needed something. Speaking of people who need to be killed … he probably doesn’t. But forcing him to spend a little time as a powerless underling would provide him with some much needed perspective. And that brings us to minor issue number one … I don’t think the movie sold the au-dience on the need for the “horrible bosses” to die.
No one will argue that this is anything other than a wish-fulfillment movie, since almost everyone has had a hateful boss that they daydreamed about offing. But at no point in the film do these guys seem believable as killers. And here is where the writing gets little bit forced. Logic is sacrificed to the central plot, as each reasonable alternative to murder is shot down by some bizarre bit of charac-ter background. Such as…
Dale Arbus (Charlie Day! I Love You!) being a registered sex offender. Except not really. He is a registered sex offender only because he used a chil-dren’s playground as a bathroom in the middle of the night. So, even though he is an otherwise stand-up guy engaged to Stacy (Lindsay Sloane) he can’t get another job. Which means he is stuck working for the sexually aggressive Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston, who should do more roles like this).
Which brings us to Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis). He works for the sweet-as-pie Jack Pellitt (Donald Sutherland, who I would find more believable as one of the Horrible Bosses). Too bad his nice boss dies, leaving him with the ex-ecrable Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell). Which brings us to minor issue number two. Bobby is too over-the-top to be a real person. He gets lines that are more broad character strokes than anything a real person would say. And I get that they were trying to make him look stupid in order to emphasize his own lack of self-aware-ness, but it is distracting. Have the character played by a Dennis Franz type, and it all becomes just a little more believable. I guess what I’m saying is that Colin Farrell can look pretty, but he can’t act, and when he tries to take away the pretty it only shows just how bad an actor he is.
After setting up the characters, the three white-collars firm up their plans to kill their horrible bosses. Through movie logic, they end up at a bar in a bad neighborhood where they meet Dean Jones (Jaime Foxx). He becomes their mur-der consultant, and sends them off to do recon on their prey. Hijinks ensue, and it is genuinely impossible to predict where the movie is headed, which saves it from being too conventional and/or mean-spirited (and it was at risk for both).
During their repeated attempts at surveillance, the police get involved. Interestingly, Charlie Day does a pretty good job of channeling Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the interrogation scene, and even though he doesn’t get a writing credit some of his dialogue seems directly in-spired by his best known character.
Finally, for those of you who care, the NavGuide voice should seem very familiar … I thought it was Marshall Manesh from How I Met Your Mother, but it was actually the voice of Brian George who has apparently appeared in hundreds of other things.