Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day
Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston
Julie Bowen, Jamie Foxx
Since time immemorial, humans have rebelled against authority figures or despotic members of their hierarchy. From entire countries and cruel monarchs, the arrival of seemingly uniform democracy made it tougher for those in power to abuse their subjects, which is why this model is now mostly used in two places: school and work.
These are the two instances when not even being right gives you any benefit, how can you argue first, with a system that will give you and education and provide a job, and then with the very workplace you were trained to excel at?
Insurrection in either of these two means you either become an outcast or starve to death, what to do then when the situations get simply out of control?
Horrible Bosses is not the answer to the complicated ethical conundrum exposed in the previous paragraphs but as an accurate portrayal of men-children caught in a cycle of senseless torture, it might be one of the cleverest movies to come out of the harsh economic times the world has been through.
Essentially the film shows us the ghastly work situations of three men whose bosses specialty is creating living hell on Earth.
There's Nick Hendricks (Bateman), an executive whose boss, Dave Harken (Spacey), tortures him with the promise of a promotion that never materializes, while chiding him for being two minutes late, making him work inhuman hours and tricking him into drinking booze early in the morning.
Kurt Buckman (Sudeikis) is a pleasing accountant who has to deal with his exemplary boss' (Donald Sutherland) son, Bobby Pellitt (Farrell), after the elder Pellitt dies of a heart attack. Bobby not only loathes Kurt, he's also a cocaine addict who en joys the company of Asian escorts.
Last, there's dental assistant Dale Arbus (Day) whose perfect life with his fiancee (Lindsay Sloane) is only threatened by the insatiable libido of his boss Julia Harris (Aniston) who tries to coerce him into having sex with her.
The three poor chums, who also happen to be life long friends, decide that the only way to make this stop is to eliminate the very source of their trouble: they must kill their bosses. They hire the shady looking Motherfucker Jones (Foxx) to be their "murder consultant" and then set out, a la Hitchcock, to kill each other's bosses. This of course leads to a large amount of hilarity and truly ridiculous situations.
It's funny to think about it but the very premise of this movie would've had a different genre connotation a couple of decades ago. The very notion that an everyman is set to kill his boss just screams noir and sends images of Bob Mitchum in a trench coat and a cackling Dick Widmark pushing ladies down a staircase.
How and when murder became hilarious instead of horrifying? That is the question. Then again, not really because what Horrible Bosses aims at goes beyond "let's make fun of these goofballs' failed murder plans", it actually makes us wonder how deep in crap we are that we have begun to think of lives as commodities we can bargain and deal with.
In a way then, this film is just as horrifying as anything that might've sprung from the WWII-bruised minds of the greatest film noir masters. The film explores the notions of survival in a very immature way (it's either murder or $20 handjobs for these guys...) but perhaps unintentionally it taps into a very primal conundrum which director Gordon (if you haven't seen his Donkey Kong documentary, what are you waiting for?) handles with dexterity and much needed grace.
Despite its rooting in the Judd Apatow school of immature adult men coming to terms with existence, Gordon seems to find a voice of his own and delivers the hilarity with politically incorrect, almost passive aggressive darkness; the very name of Motherfucker Jones calls for a whole essay on the blaxploitaition movement, and as much as Gordon tries to pretend he's just another comedy director, his movie references and twisted homages tell us that he's a filmmaker to watch. You don't see Hitchcock, Danny de Vito and Kiss Me Deadly thrown in together into a single reference so frequently, do ya?
If there is one thing the film fails at is establishing why these guys need to be friends in the same place, something noir-ish would've been more benefited from the pros of anonymity, heck the very name of Strangers on a Train says it! So why do we need to know they are members of this boy club? Do they allow other members? it would've been interesting to see how Gordon developed his characters under the stress of unfamiliarity.
Other than that, the film shines for its excellent portrayal of hard economic times, the refusal to grow up and you haven't lived until you see, the usually too-good-to-be-true, Jennifer Aniston spraying Charlie Day's crotch trying to figure out whether he's cut or not. She gives the comedic performance of the year!