And in a way, that’s exactly what “Horrible Bosses” is: a horror show. It certainly gave me the creeps, as it harassed me with a succession of comedy bits (emphasis on “bits”) that were racist, homophobic or misogynistic, and sometimes they were all three.
Wanna know what passes for humor in “Horrible Bosses?”
Let’s seeeeeee … there’s Colin Farrell’s combover; Jason Sudeikis slipping Kevin Spacey’s toothbrush between his (butt) cheeks; Charlie Day crying “rape” when an amorous Jennifer Aniston pins him up against the file cabinets; and let’s not forget the leaping-out-of-nowhere cat, a cliche best suited to a cheesy horror picture.
And in a way, that’s exactly what “Horrible Bosses” is: a horror show.
It certainly gave me the creeps, as it harassed me with a succession of comedy bits (emphasis on “bits”) that were racist, homophobic or misogynistic, and sometimes they were all three.
Yet, its worst offense is simply not being funny. I think I laughed a grand total of twice, which is really not surprising, considering it was written by three hacks from the TV world who spent entirely too much time watching “The Hangover.”
Day, Sudeikis and Jason Bateman are working stiffs who feel so trapped by their repressive, megalomaniacal bosses (Farrell, Spacey and Aniston) that they believe homicide is their only way out. And sure enough, the scheme they cook up pretty much murders every brain cell in your body.
I swear I felt the rumble of Alfred Hitchcock turning over in his grave when his classic “Strangers on a Train” was introduced into the conversation by our three nebbishes as they plot to kill each other’s bosses. But other than the crisscross philosophy of ‘I kill your enemy if you kill mine,’ “Horrible Bosses” really bears no resemblance.
No, the movie that writers Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein crib most is “The Hangover,” a comedy that, like this one, sets three dolts loose on a law-bending adventure for which they are ill-prepared to endure.
The only difference is that the situations in which director Seth Gordon (“Four Christmases”) puts them aren’t nearly as clever. Nor do they make much sense, as is the case between Day, playing Dale –– a registered sex offender because he urinated in an empty playground –– and Aniston, playing his nymphomaniac boss at a dental office where teeth aren’t the only things getting drilled.
If Aniston’s character, Julia, was nasty and unattractive, I could understand Day’s resistance to her repeated come-ons. But Aniston? I don’t know a straight guy, other than Day, that wouldn’t be jumping Aniston’s curvaceous bones if she were throwing herself at them as willingly as Julia does. I mean, what guy wouldn’t love working for Aniston if she greeted them every morning in nothing but panties and a gaping jacket?
Aniston further dilutes the conceit by being head-to-toe sexy, both in her appearance and in her sultry voice, as it spews double-entendres so suggestive they’d make Brad Pitt wish he’d never left her for Angelina Jolie. It’s a great performance, probably her best since “The Good Girl,” and it will no doubt free her from the prissy bonds of Rachel Green that have haunted her since her days on “Friends.” But she just isn’t the right actress for this movie.
Blame that on Gordon, who has no concept of what sort of tone he wants to set for “Horrible Bosses,” as it oscillates incompetently between pitch-black humor and silly slapstick. It’s almost as big of a mistake as giving Bateman, Day and Sudeikis most of the screen time even though they are no match for Spacey, Farrell, Aniston and Jamie Foxx (playing a “murder consultant”) in the humor department. Those four seldom fail to draw at least a smile, while our three “heroes” only make you want to rush home and take a shower.
They’re a trio of sexist, homophobic twits whose murderous intent is meant to be cheered and laughed at. Talk about feel-good comedy! It’s almost as off-putting as the blatant racism they display when they drive to a black neighborhood (where else?) looking to hire someone to kill their bosses.
At least their trip into the “ghetto” yields us Foxx, who flat steals the show in two short scenes that are as funny as the rest of the movie isn’t. But even then, Gordon beats a dead horse by bombarding you with joke after joke centering on Foxx’s character’s name, which is too obscene to print in a family newspaper.
Like Foxx, Spacey, playing a corporate boss who seems to have walked in off the set of “The Sopranos,” and Farrell, playing a coke-snorting scion who inherits the family business from his estranged father (Donald Sutherland in one of the film’s numerous cameos), fail to get the screen time they deserve.
But they do make a tenuous situation more tolerable, as they compel you to fantasize about how much better the movie would be if the roles were reversed and they were the ones plotting to kill Bateman, Sudeikis and the hopelessly unfunny Day. Then, murder would not only be justified, it would be applauded.
HORRIBLE BOSSES (R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material.) Cast includes Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell. Directed by Seth Gordon. 2 stars out of 4.