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HORRIBLE BOSSES (director: Seth Gordon; screenwriters: Michael Markowitz/John Francis Daley/Jonathan Goldstein/story by Michael Markowitz; cinematographer: David Hennings; editor: Peter Teschner; music: Christopher Lennertz; cast: Jason Bateman (Nick Hendricks), Charlie Day (Dale Arbus), Jason Sudeikis (Kurt Buckman), Jennifer Aniston (Dr. Julia Harris), Colin Farrell (Bobby Pellit),Kevin Spacey (Dave Harken), Donald Sutherland (Jack Pellit), Julie Bowen (Rhonda Harken), Jamie Foxx (Dean Jones), Lindsay Sloane (Stacy); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Brett Ratner/Jay Stern; Warner Bros.; 2011)
It should be titled Horrible Comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It should be titled Horrible Comedy. Director Seth Gordon (“Four Christmases”)adapts a story by Michael Markowitz (written by Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein) and keeps it tasteless and dull-witted. Its amoral premise is that things would be better in the world if three contemptible bosses were killed by three angry white men, who want justice in the workplace and don’t know how else to achieve that aim.The foul-mouthed misanthropic comedy chickens out before it fulfills the criminal deeds of its premise, as it somehow in an unconvincing manner redeems its three crappy character leads and makes them look almost noble if you can believe.

Three frustrated young LA friends and competent workers, Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis), Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) and Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), complain to each other about their horrible bosses. The ambitious, reasonable, workaholic married man Nick works for a giant corporation as an office drone and his power-obsessed boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) treats him like a dog, works him all hours and reneges on his promise of a promotion. Dale is a goofy dental hygienist, who is engaged to the sweet Stacy (Lindsay Sloane). He wishes to be true to Stacy, the girl he loves, but his attractive dentist boss Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston) sexually harasses him and he dares not quit because he’s a registered sex offender (caught taking a leak while drunk at a playground). Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) is an accountant manager at a chemical plant, who respects his boss Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland). They have a father-son relationship. But Jack has a heart attack and dies (that Donald Sutherland departs so early on, makes him the most fortunate one in the pic). The company is now run by Jack’s mean-spirited, irresponsible, coke-head son Bobby (Colin Farrell), who makes it hell working for him. The shitty boss tries to fire all fat and handicapped employees, to cut costs by putting dangerous chemicals in the public instead of following daddy’s environmental friendly ways, and to squeeze as much profit out the company to support his hedonistic playboy lifestyle instead of running the company as an ethical business enterprise.

The plot involves the bumbling trio trying to hire a hit man to kill the three bad bosses but in the process getting ripped off by a black ex-con (Jamie Foxx) they mistakenly think did time for murder, who takes $5,000 from them to be only a consultant. Further juvenile comic shenanigans revolve around the boys arranging for each to kill the other’s boss (stealing that plot device from Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train”) and there are also some stupid comical bits over peanut allergies, cell phones and wired tape recordings.

None of it is funny (at least I didn’t find it funny), and the three leads (all TV sitcom actors) were too creepy and morally bankrupt to be likable. The pic’s idea of being witty is to hang the nickname Mutha Fucka Jones on the black hood and to keep saying that name as if that alone would draw laughs. I would think that this misguided black comedy is too moronic to appeal to any outside the usual suspects who find such vulgarity to their liking and those unhappy workers who harbor kill-my-boss fantasies.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”