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Horrible Bosses - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
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cinema_holic
Horrible Bosses
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Directing: A-
Acting: B+
Writing: A-
Cinematography: B+
Editing: A-



Yes, it's true that Horrible Bosses is, at its core, just a retread of the frankly superior -- and funnier -- 1980 revenge-against-the-boss hit 9 to 5. But what other fatal flaws does it have? Well . . . none, really. In fact, Horrible Bosses is actually nearly as good -- and nearly as funny -- as 9 to 5, and at present the edge it has is its direct relevance to contemporary audiences. All of this is very much to its credit.

After all, in Horrible Bosses, the desperation of our heroes, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) is underscored by the reality of the recession. They all hate their bosses, but are trapped in their jobs because they don't want to lose a steady paycheck only to end up giving hand jobs for money like their other high school pal who didn't wind up as "lucky" as they are.

If you can call these scenarios lucky: Nick has a sadistically manipulative boss (Kevin Spacey, playing the opposite of his midlife crisis role in American Beauty and yet so very much in his element). Kurt has a new boss who, after inheriting it from his kind-hearted father, is hell-bent on running the company into the ground with his cocaine habit (Colin Farrell, hilariously not hot with amazing prosthetics rendering him almost unrecognizable). And Dale has trouble gaining sympathy from his pals for his predicament with a sexually predatory dentist (Jennifer Aniston, in her first truly great film role in, well, maybe ever).

Horrible Bosses is very much an ensemble cast, and nearly every performer is a delight to watch. Jamie Foxx pops up in a key role as the black guy who takes advantage of these guys' naively unwitting racism, suckering them out of five grand not to perform the hit they thought he was going to do, but charging them to be their "murder consultant." This is a guy who goes out of his way to break every stereotype he can, even though he insists on being addressed as Motherfucker Jones. (Indeed, a juvenile glee is elicited from hearing anyone call him "Motherfucker" in forced-casual conversation.)

In a way, Horrible Bosses is actually the flip side of the same coin as 9 to 5. The latter movie was about disenfranchised women stumbling onto their own empowerment; this is a movie about a trio of male schlubs bumbling their way through increasingly ridiculous attempts at getting rid of their bosses. Not one of them proves skilled or adept or competent at the prospect of killing, not even when Motherfucker gives them the seemingly brilliant advice of killing each other's bosses in an attempt to hide their motives.

This is precisely what makes the movie such a joy to watch. Nick, Kurt and Dale are borderline morons due simply to being so far out of their element, driven to desperate measures brought on by desperate times. They're constantly doing stupid things, most of them hilarious. And much of the best humor is found in the subtlest of places, such as a birds-eye shot of the three of them in their respective cars in a parking lot, barely managing to maneuver their way out without hitting each other.

And here is a script that is to be commended because, unlike a lot of films -- and unlike most comedies -- it does not go in the direction you expect. I won't tell you who dies or lives how or why, because that would absolutely spoil the experience, but I can tell you it's not what you'll think going in. And what's better than a laugh-out-loud comedy that genuinely surprises? Bridesmaids was propped up as a possible "new Hangover," but it kind of failed to live up to that expectation. If there's any movie that could take that title, it's this one -- and this one actually isn't quite as gimmicky. (And it sure the hell is better, and seriously funnier, than The Hangover Part II.)

Laughter is always the truest litmus test of a comedy. For my money, Horrible Bosses was quite literally a knee-slapper. That doesn't come along all that often. It's even rarer for it to be more than merely funny. Sure, some of it is caricature -- which is especially the case with Jennifer Aniston here -- but they all just do it so well. These people are over the top but just realistic enough to be believable in a movie that is definitively ridiculous but so well played that you forget about everything except how entertained you are.

(L-R) Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day get in over their heads with Jamie Foxx in 'Horrible Bosses'.


Overall: A-
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