The hit comedy “Horrible Bosses” is basically just a wish-fulfillment fantasy writ large, but it’s a highly effective one full of outrageous situations, quotable lines and sharp performances.
The “Horrible Bosses” in question are that indeed. Kevin Spacey is the ever-cryptic head who delights in humiliating his hardest worker (Jason Bateman); Colin Farrell is only in the big-boy chair because his suddenly dead father owned the company, making heretofore-pleasant life at the firm miserable for Jason Sudeikis; and Jennifer Aniston is the horny dentist who just won’t stop sexually harassing her happily engaged assistant (Charlie Day).
Our three suffering guys stumble upon the idea that they’d be better off without being under their employees’ thumbs (or pelvis, in Day’s case). When attempts to hire hit men go awry (hilariously), they reason the best-case scenario is to off each other’s superior. That has little to no basis in reality, but then we’d be denied the priceless scenes of them taking assassination advice from a shady bar regular named Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx).
You know everything’s going to turn out all right by the end — they always do in these kind of comedies — but what matters is if you laugh a lot along the way. I sure did. It helps to have Bateman front and center. The guy is a comedy MVP, even when the films aren’t up to snuff (“The Change-Up”), and Sudeikis is close on his heels. The “Saturday Night Live” star is playing only a slight variation on his “Hall Pass” persona, but he does it so damned well.
Day is the relative newcomer to the bunch. Known for his role on TV’s cult hit “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” he proves himself worthy of further raucous big-screen adventures, even with a tendency to resort to yelling lines. Among the bosses, Farrell may not be the funniest of the toxic trio, but he steals the show for totally foregoing vanity under a bad comb-over and beer gut.
The film is far funnier than director Seth Gordon’s previous comedy, the just-aight “Four Christmases,” but nowhere near the transcendence of his debut, “The King of Kong,” which may be my favorite documentary ever. This one has potential for a long life among dorms and frat houses.
On the Blu-ray, a segment titled “My Least Favorite Career” asks Gordon and his cast about the horrible bosses of their past. Gordon takes the cake with suffering as a dishwasher at an old folks’ home. Points to Hollywood kid Bateman for not putting on airs: “I’ve never had a real job, so I’ve never had a real boss.”
The deleted scenes (really extended and alternate, to be technical) kick off with two bleak openings, both of which feature Bateman on the toilet while eating Chinese take-out. You know you want it. —Rod Lott