With Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston; Rated R (for strong language, nudity, drug use); Written by Michael Markowitz & John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein; Directed by Seth Gordon.
Credit’s got to go to “The Hangover” for opening all sorts of new doors in R-rated comedies. Make that comedies with a “hard R.” Without the success of “The Hangover,” there would be no “Bridesmaids” or “Bad Teacher” or HORRIBLE BOSSES.
Truth be told, some version of a “Horrible Bosses” script has been kicking around for about five years, and has undergone numerous rewrites before being given to director Seth Gordon (“Four Christmases”), who put it on a wilder, crazier, and less forgiving track.
But a question has been kicking around in my head. I saw the movie more than a week ago. Why are scenes from it still welling up and sending me into fits of chuckles?
It could be the story about three pals who regularly get together at a drinking hole to swap tales of how awful they’re treated at their jobs. Maybe it’s the inventive direction that has everyone in the perfect spot at the right time, saying their lines in the most optimum comic manner. There’s a good chance that it’s the fact that the folks playing the three bosses of the title (Kevin Spacey, Colin Ferrell, Jennifer Aniston) are in scenery-chewing mode.
Nope. The biggest laugh-inducing factor in “Horrible Bosses” is the chemistry. Our three nice-guy heroes, driven to look into ways to kill their respective bosses, are played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day. Bateman’s Nick is emotionally tortured by the sadistic Spacey, Sudeikis’s Kurt gets his blood boiling due to the coke-addled and colossally stupid Farrell, Day’s Dale could use a tamper-proof chastity belt whenever sex-crazed Aniston comes near him.
It’s when these three guys are together – and let us praise Seth Gordon for regularly keeping all three of them in one shot, showing them acting and reacting off of and to each other, that funny bones are getting tickled.
Bateman comes across as a sort of voice of reason, and Sudeikis is, for the most part, the calm one, and Day gets to be the film’s excitable little kid, his eyes going wide and his voice shooting up to mezzo-soprano level. But suddenly there’s more slapping going on than in your typical Three Stooges short (and according to the director, none of it was scripted). Confession: Grown men slapping each other has always made me laugh.
No filmmaker in their right mind would try to top Woody Allen’s cocaine sight gag in “Annie Hall.” But “Horrible Bosses” absolutely trumps it. The same goes with an uncountable string of wrong time-wrong place coincidences that give the film legs. Writers will often say that you can never go wrong with a funny name. Well, here we’ve got Jamie Foxx as a “murder consultant” who calls himself Motherf***** Jones, and that first name is used, repeatedly, in the most casual way.
This is a movie with no slow spots. It’s funny, then it’s nuts, then it’s funnier because it’s so nuts. I’m going to have to see it again if I want to catch the dialogue I missed while I was laughing.•••