Film review: Horrible Bosses

2011– 98mn – 15

Directed by Seth Gordon. Starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston. Review by Walter Nichols.

Best friends Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day), and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) all have the same problem: their bosses are evil. Nick’s boss (Kevin Spacey) has overworked him for eight years, bullies him, and promises him promotions he never actually gets. Dale is a dental assistant to nymphomaniac Julia (Jennifer Aniston), who keeps on sexually harassing him and threatens to derail his relationship with his fianc�e. And Kurt, who used to love his job, is now stuck under a new boss, spoilt cokehead Bobby (Colin Farrell), who makes Kurt fire the weakest members of the staff while carelessly running the company into the ground.

One night over beers in the bar, while contemplating the possibility that this may be the reality for the rest of their lives – especially in a recession economy, a time when if they were to quit they would be unlikely to find new jobs – the three friends wonder: what if their bosses didn’t exist? What if someone happened to kill them?

And – of course – this being a studio comedy, the hypothetical bar talk quickly becomes an actual plan. The three guys find a “murder consultant” (Jamie Foxx), agree to whack each other’s bosses (making it harder for the police to track motives), and set off to see if they can pull it off.

The film’s set-up sounds so gimmicky – like a comedy sketch, or an obvious joke – that it’s a surprise that the film is in fact very, very funny. Its success relies mostly on leading men Bateman and Sudeikis, who are not only funny but whose down-to-earth, working-men charm make the film’s premise just about believable. The bosses of the title are also very well cast, Spacey – the most delightfully villainous of them all – especially. And the film is well written, the murder plots quickly turning into a comedy of errors, the three friends unable to do any of it right, and digging themselves deeper and deeper into an ever more incriminating hole. It’s competent, satisfying entertainment all the way through.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars