Horrible Bosses | Film review
A comedy about boss-icide lacks real authority.
A case in which cutting corners has led to an inferior product, Horrible Bosses takes a naturally hilarious cast and saddles it with a script (credited to TV vets Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein) that could’ve used a few more drafts. The premise is acerbic, if not exactly satirical: Three friends, having decided their superiors are so evil as to be bad for the human race, plot to get them out of the way. Nick (Bateman), convinced “the key to success is taking shit,” kisses ass to a white-collar drill sergeant (Spacey), the kind of man who offers him a drink, then accuses him of drinking at work. Engaged dental assistant Dale (Day), who can’t get another job because pissing outside a bar inexplicably landed him a sex-offender conviction, fends off the advances of a horny DDS (Aniston) who makes her correlative on an old Seinfeld episode look like a model of workplace ethics. Kurt (Sudeikis), still grieving the loss of his mentor (Sutherland), can’t abide the man’s cokehead son (a greasy, combed-over Farrell, in a getup that suggests more hilarity than ever materializes) or the new corporate plans to export health hazards to Bolivia.
This setup yields a few dividends. Sudeikis’s dry interjections are a constant delight, and Foxx walks off with the film as a grifter who goes by the funnier-on-paper name Motherfucker Jones. The plot is also labyrinthine enough to pack in a surprise or two. But Gordon (who chronicled a funnier, improbably better-plotted competition tale in the Donkey Kong doc The King of Kong) fails to provide much rhythm or directorial zip, and the rush to exonerate the lead characters—a real copout—makes the film an unworthy heir to Hitchcock’s ostentatiously referenced Strangers on a Train. Name-dropping the master is not the way to get ahead.