People will tell you that you should always write what you know. Admittedly they’re normally the kind of people who couldn’t write the f-word on a dusty Venetian blind. Ask yourself; do you really want to watch a film about what Guy Ritchie actually knows? Movies about Burberry-clad poshos in Harold and Maude-style romances with women who look like they might have been the aerobics instructor on the Mayflower aren’t going to cut it for your average Loaded reader. And ever since Woody Allen stopped with the funnies and started churning out films about how tough it is to be an elderly Jewish nebbish with a taste for the young stuff…well, let’s just say there’s a reason Woody plays his clarinet in a New York bar every Oscar night. But, every so often, a film comes along that proves that writing what you know can work; all you need is a killer premise. Who among us has never had a boss they wanted to kill?
Drinking buddies Nick, Dale and Kurt are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. Corporate wage slave Nick (Jason Bateman) finds his life is being made a living hell by sociopathic boss Harken (Kevin Spacey; who else?), dental nurse Dale (Charlie Day) is being blackmailed and sexually harassed by predatory, nymphomaniac dentist Julia (Jennifer Aniston) and after Kurt’s (Jason Sudeikis) fatherly boss (Donald Sutherland) dies he finds himself saddled with his son Bobby (Colin Farrell), the corrupt, sleazebag, cokehead whore-mongering heir to the company who’s intent on running it into the ground. So after a few too many beers, the answer seems clear; they have to kill their bosses.
After first trying to hire a hitman and encountering smooth, suave ‘wet work’ specialist Ioan Gruffudd (a hilarious cameo that bizarrely shows just how good a Bond he’d have made) who doesn’t do children or political figures, the guys hire themselves ‘murder consultant’ the aptly-named Motherf*cker Jones (Jamie Foxx) who advises them to swap murders a la Strangers on a Train to throw the cops off the scent. Unfortunately, as well as being essentially decent people who’ve just been pushed too far, our heroes are idiots and things don’t go according to plan…
Brisk, funny and profane, Horrible Bosses is everything that this year’s earlier Frat Pack comedy, The Hangover 2, wasn’t. For starters, it’s actually funny. Not mildly amusing. Not smirksome. Genuinely laugh-out-loud, braying like a donkey, laughing so hard a little bit of wee escapes funny. Ok, it may not be that original, recycling the plots of Throw Momma From The Train and 9 to 5 but it’s charming and Bateman, Day and Sudeikis are an engaging, likeable trio, Sudeikis playing the kind of shallow ladies man that fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Chevy Chase and Bill Murray made their own while Day is a frenetic, livewire. As ever Bateman’s world-weary everyman is the sole voice of reason and he’s the glue that holds the film together.
The supporting cast is fantastic with only Spacey hitting a bum note as he sleepwalks through yet another film, giving us his now customary panto villain that’s halfway between Swimming With Sharks‘s Buddy Ackerman and Se7en’s John Doe. Foxx is surprisingly endearing as Motherf*cker Jones and the tale of how he got his nickname is one of the film’s highlights. Farrell is simply brilliant. With his beer gut and comb-over he’s virtually unrecognisable but his performance isn’t simply a retread of Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder. He brings real pathos to the role of Bobby making him the most sympathetic (or maybe pathetic) of the Horrible Bosses without ever losing sight of the fact that his character is a loathsome pr*ck. The real revelation however is Aniston who is so offensively funny you can’t quite believe it’s her, especially when she’s talking about fingering herself so hard during Gossip Girl that she broke a nail. Aniston hasn’t just buried Rachel Green with this role she’s driven a stake through her heart and desecrated her corpse.
Foul-mouthed, offensive, and darkly hilarious, Horrible Bosses is the best comedy since…oh…Bridesmaids.
Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Donald Sutherland
Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein