Premeditated laughs

Stellar ensemble and creative script give juice to Horrible Bosses’ ridiculous premise

Three best friends, gettin’ pumped for a killing spree—a hilarious killing spree.

Three best friends, gettin’ pumped for a killing spree—a hilarious killing spree.

Horrible Bosses
Starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx. Directed by Seth Gordon. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R.
Rated 4.0

When I first heard the premise of this comedy by director Seth Gordon, I couldn’t help but wonder why such a great cast—Spacey, Farrell, Foxx, Aniston, Bateman—would bother with such a dumb-sounding premise: Three guys who are so miserable in their work lives that they plot to kill each others’ horrible bosses? It sounded like it might be your typical action comedy with over-the-top slapstick to compensate for underwhelming writing. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

What’s remarkable about this film is that it makes the motives behind the absurd multimurder plot relatable. These bosses are so horrible that you really do want them knocked off. As the hot-tempered CEO Dave Harken, Kevin Spacey plays up the psycho almost as intensely as his murderous Se7en character. Hollywood sweetheart Jennifer Aniston takes a turn for the red-light district with her character Julia’s overt sexual harassing, and Colin Farrell’s Bobby is the ultimate douchebag with his comb-over and coked-out antics in the workplace.

Each of our working stiffs is trapped into staying with his employer. During a recession, they can’t just quit their jobs and hope for something else. What job-holding moviegoer can’t empathize?

Once I saw the plot working, the strong cast took over. No unreliable slackers here.

Each role seems to have been tailored for each of the leading funny men. You might say the creators played it safe, but I think they played it smart. SNL’s Jason Sudeikis as the loveable charmer, Jason Bateman as the cynical straight-man, and Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as the neurotic little guy make up a perfect team.

The chemistry clicks for these three clueless white guys desperate to acquaint themselves with the underground crime world to further the mission at hand. From mishaps with Craigslist ads for hit men, to their heart-to-hearts with a shady ex-con named Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx), it’s clear these students of homicide have a lot to learn. The raunchy humor will remind you of The Hangover, but these criminal newbies actually out-do the adventures of that Las Vegas crew, hands down.

As they re-create a modern version of Strangers on a Train, they may not exude the sophistication of Hitchcock’s leading men, but they sure as hell are a lot funnier. And they’re willing to kill each other’s bosses? True bromance. (They really are “the three best friends that anyone could ever have.” Oops, wrong movie.)

Don’t make my mistake and judge the movie by its trailer—give Horrible Bosses a chance. The worst that could happen is you might, ahem, die of laughter. But that’s not such a bad way to go.