'Horrible Bosses' wickedly funny



Article Published: Jul. 14, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Horrible Bosses' wickedly funny

Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis and Jason Bateman star in 'Horrible Bosses.'



frank@mountaintimes.com

In the post-"Office Space" world, bosses are ranked on the Lumbergh scale, with 1 being mildly irritating and 10 being soul-crushing, abominable $*#&.

Kevin Spacey's character in the wickedly hilarious dark comedy, "Horrible Bosses," takes it to whole other $*#& level: If you were in his employees' shoes, murder - or at least a cruel maiming - would actually seem like a reasonable solution.

But let's be honest. Its premise - three best friends agreeing to murder each other's despicable boss - is a little far-fetched. It's perfect fodder for a dark comedy, though, the kind that made late 20th-century cinema memorable. Heck, one of the characters even mentions 1987's "Throw Momma from the Train."

It's a conscious decision on part of the filmmakers, and the story never takes itself too seriously, instead keeping the action grounded with its impeccably cast leads.

Jason Bateman (TV's "Arrested Development"), Jason Sudeikis ("Hall Pass") and Charlie Day (TV's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") are Nick, Kurt and Dale, respectively, three lifelong chums who regularly commiserate over their loathsome bosses.

Nick's boss, Harken, (Kevin Spacey, "L.A. Confidential") has cruelly and deliberately strung him along with false hope for a promotion (putting it nicely). Kurt's coke-snorting, imbecile of a boss, Pellitt (Colin Farrell, "In Bruges"), seeks to ruin the company that Kurt so loved. And Dale is assistant to sexual-harassment incarnate dentist Dr. Julia (Jennifer Aniston, TV's "Friends").

When each boss proves their cruelty knows no bounds, Nick, Kurt and Dale drunkenly throw around the possibility of murdering them. With Kurt and Dale gung-ho over the idea, Nick is reluctantly - at first - dragged into it.

But they'll need some help. Enter Jamie Foxx ("Ray") as M.F. Jones (you can guess what the "M.F." stands for), who agrees to serve as the gang's murder consultant. He proposes the classic Alfred Hitchcock "Strangers on the Train" scenario, where each party should murder the other's boss, thereby eliminating any immediate connection and motive between victim and suspect.

They're all for it. Naturally, things don't go quite as planned, and one thing leads to another, but the premise never grows stale. The laughs never stop coming, either.

Bateman, Sudeikis and Day have a winning chemistry, bantering and bickering their way through whichever predicament presents itself. The trio makes for a sidesplitting set of leads, though they're almost - but not quite - overshadowed by their would-be victims.

Spacey is delightfully malicious as the sociopathic, manipulative Harken. Farrell is barely recognizable as a combed-over, slovenly sleazebag, while Aniston exudes a raunchy sultriness that'd probably get some folks in the dentist chair more often than not.

It's a character-driven comedy, where it's obvious that the cast members are characters themselves and enjoying every minute of it. The dark aspect isn't overbearing, with director Seth Gordon ("The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters") delivering an appropriate balance of funny and ferocity.

"Horrible Bosses," rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material, is playing at Regal Cinema 7. For show times, see page 16 or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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