Dirty work

By Carl Kozlowski

Posted July 7, 2011 in Film

During my 16 years in the working world, I’ve had some pretty bad bosses. One was Glenn, a guy so high-strung and hot-tempered that he once threw a folder at my head. That happened in front of about 50 coworkers, so he was packed off to two weeks at an anger-management clinic and forced to publicly apologize.

Another was Jane, who ass-kissed her way from being a fellow reporter to my editor. Her idea of management was shrieking over the slightest perceived offense.

Best of all was Ruth Ratny, who was not only singled out by Oprah as one of the four meanest bosses in America, but also proved her deal with the devil by surviving a three-story fall through an open elevator shaft.

All of these experiences have made me the target audience for the new comedy Horrible Bosses, which brings together a stellar cast to have wicked fun with the idea of three employees teaming up to whack their supervisors.

How can you go wrong, with Kevin Spacey in full-bile mode as a company president who takes an extra job for himself rather than bestowing a promotion on his harried underling of eight years, played by Jason Bateman? Or Colin Farrell as the coked-up, whore-hiring monster of a son who takes over a family business after his lovable father (Donald Sutherland) dies from a sudden heart attack, leaving the father’s preferred protégé (Jason Sudeikis) in the cold?

And then there’s Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a dental assistant who faces daily sexual harassment from his man-eating boss (Jennifer Aniston), yet can’t switch jobs because he’s been labeled a sex offender for taking a whiz in the middle of the night on a playground that happened to be next door to a bar.

All three workers hate their bosses, and while fantasizing over beers one night they build a drunken determination to kill them.

But while Bateman and Sudeikis were just indulging their drunken fantasies, Day has actually taking steps to hire a hit man, with Jamie Foxx now aboard as the guy who’s willing to kill them all for a mere $5,000, things are about to get out of control.

Horrible Bosses is the latest in the seemingly never-ending string of R-rated comedies that seek to push the envelope of bad taste. Thankfully, ace cast members are perfectly matched with their roles, enabling director Seth Gordon to pull off a much more entertaining film than his uneven and awkward prior effort, Four Christmases.

While the script by Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein is packed with twists, and the audience actually was rolling in the aisles at the screening, it still feels like they’ve taken things a little too far. When nearly every line and plot point involves some sort of kink or a barrage of profanity, even someone like me, who counts There’s Something About Mary as a favorite, has to wonder why there isn’t more effort put into being more clever than shocking and gross.

Oh, there are plenty of laughs in Horrible Bosses. But there are also plenty of moments that are completely unable to be described in a newspaper. You might laugh at this film, but you also might feel like you need to shower.


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