By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
Workers of the world, unite — at least in your rollicking enjoyment of this riotously funny, wish-fulfillment comedy about frustrated employees.
And if you’ve never had a boss to complain about, it doesn’t matter — the laughs come in big bunches for everybody.
Now, for anybody who, having seen the highly amusing trailer for this film, thinks this might be a case of all the funny moments in an otherwise unfunny movie turning up in the trailer, nothing could be further from the truth. The trailer for Horrible Bosses is funny because so is the movie, from first scene to last.
Call them what you will — supervisors, managers, administrators, overseers, foremen, superiors, directors, chiefs, heads, stewards, executives — bosses aren’t always so boss. Thus the premise of Horrible Bosses, in which three friends commiserate with one another because each of them feels he works for the Boss from Hell.
Jasons Bateman, Jason Sudeikas, and Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) play three buddies who are tormented in various and sundry ways by their respective employers, played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston.
Sadistic supervisor Spacey teases and taunts Bateman with promises of a promotion, giving him impossible assignments that Bateman carries out anyway. But the boss has no intention of promoting him.
Corrupt company owner and coke-head Farrell similarly has principled accountant Sudeikis do his prejudicially motivated dirty work — like firing the overweight or handicapped — after he takes over his father’s chemical manufacturing plant.
And sexually aggressive dentist Aniston — playing very much against her good-girl persona — targets dental assistant Day, recently engaged to be married, destroying his self-respect with her relentless pursuit of him and various ruinous threats involving his fiancée.
What to do…
The obvious solution is for the triumvirate to quit their jobs. But they can’t opt to be unemployed: times are just too tough.
So the three unhappy and exploited underlings come to the conclusion one drunken evening, after a round or two of casual hypothesizing, that their bosses are ruining their lives and that life can only become pleasant — or at least tolerable — if those bosses would somehow disappear.
Hmmm. Perhaps that could be arranged. But prayer alone just won’t do it.
Sure enough, the put-upon, disgruntled trio turn to hustling ex-con Jamie Foxx, who has experience in these matters and sees himself as a “murder consultant.”
And although they’re not exactly trained assassins, the Three Blind Mites conspire to kill their bosses.
Yep, it’s those proverbial “best-laid plans.” And these are men, not mice. Well, maybe a little of both.
Director Seth Gordon (Four Christmases, The King of Kong) works from a revenge-fantasy screenplay by Michael Markowitz (who wrote the story), John Francis Daley, and Jonathan Goldstein that borrows a shade or two from the female-centric Nine to Five; a complaint or two from the hostile-work-environment romp Office Space; and a note or two from the nasty farce Ruthless People.
But the clever and inventive Horrible Bosses script, carving out its own indelible niche, is peppered with disarming twists, and juggles and intercuts three similar storylines with finesse, aided immeasurably by a game, skilled ensemble that comes through with flying colors.
The casting is inspired and impeccable, perfectly balanced in that the three downtrodden dudes are played by actors (Bateman, Sudeikis, Day) who have made names for themselves in television without quite achieving movie stardom, while the rest of the cast can claim to have made loud (Aniston, Farrell) and even Oscar-winning (Spacey, Foxx) splashes on the movie screen.
The entire cast is on target, but the revelation here is Charlie Day, who wins the day in his showiest movie role to date. His every line reading and doubletake is priceless, and he’s endearingly sympathetic to boot.
If Horrible Bosses does nothing else for the movie landscape, it establishes Day as a major comic talent.
So we’ll employ 3½ stars out of 4 for a dark and uproarious workplace romp. Horrible Bosses is the opposite of horrible.