fri 14/06/2024

Horrible Bosses | reviews, news & interviews

Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses

Bad guys and guest stars to the rescue in crass comedy

Jason Bateman (left) and horrible boss Kevin Spacey in Seth Gordon's murderous comedy

Wage-slave purgatory in three different flavours is the subject of Seth Gordon's comedy, as his trio of downtrodden leads decide that the only way to break free from remorseless professional abuse is by murdering their respective bosses. George Cukor this ain't - in fact, Gordon has succeeded in making Carry On up the Khyber look like a revered art-house masterpiece - but as long as you leave your brain in "Park", there are just enough laughs to drag you to the closing credits.

Jason Bateman plays Nick, a dogged corporate yes man at Comnidine Industries who deludes himself that his boss VP Harken (Kevin Spacey) will one day compensate for dishing out years of psychological torment by giving him a promotion. But then Harken decides not to. Accountant Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) is being lined up to step into the shoes of benign old Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland), but Pellit's sudden heart attack triggers the accession of berserk, drug-addled Pellit Jr (Colin Farrell) instead. Dental assistant Dale (Charlie Day) aims to marry his fiancée and attain suburban normalcy, but his plans go awry when his boss, Dr Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), reveals herself as a remorseless nymphomaniac predator.

A major faultline in the concept is that you can never believe that these bumbling workaday drones could ever take the drastic step of bumping anybody off, and even Kurt and Nick fail to grasp why Dale is so distraught at the prospect of being forcibly straddled by Aniston wearing only a white coat and skimpy knickers (needless to say, Gordon has not set out to deliver a measured investigation of the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace). On the other hand, the screenwriters couldn't make them too competent or decisive, since the development of the story depends on their rabbit-in-the-headlights stupidity when confronted with the consequences of their decision (Donald Sutherland, Colin Farrell and Jason Sudeikis, pictured below).

bosses_farrell_trimLuckily the bosses carry more than their fair share of the burden. Spacey excels as the monstrous Harken, who lords it over his cowering underlings with the macho swagger of a Marine drill sergeant enhanced by some imaginative sadistic twists. The way he finesses Nick into drinking a giant tumbler of scotch at 8.30 in the morning, then uses incipient alcoholism as a stick to beat him with, is a smirkingly treasurable moment.

Also rising to the challenge is Farrell as the catastrophic Pellit Jr. Casting aside his habitual wide-boy cool, he plays Pellit as a pop-eyed coke-head sporting a disastrous comb-over who's too preoccupied with hookers and a kung-fu fetish to worry about a few thousand Third World workers being wiped out by toxic waste. Aniston, meanwhile, clearly made a tactical decision to play against type. Understandable, considering some of the stuff she's appeared in recently. Her Dr Harris (pictured below with Charlie Day) has left anything resembling a nuance in the parking lot, and hearing Rachel from Friends demanding "Can you see my pussy?" is undeniably startling.

aniston_trimFor double-plus insurance, a possibly nervous Gordon has bundled in a couple of additional guest walk-ons. Ioan Gruffudd appears as a cool, Bond-like Englishman who sells fetishistic personal services, while Jamie Foxx gently mocks his hard-ass persona as Motherfucker Jones, a purveyor of murder counselling.

There is much that is crass about this movie, and it offers little defence to accusations that it's sexist, trivialises serious issues and is gratuitously gross. It's also intermittently hilarious, and is better cast and better acted than it deserved to be. Add all that together and... there isn't a word for it really.

Watch the trailer for Horrible Bosses

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