This Week at the Movies: Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses is a movie that is funny in parts (like the “Oh Toyota” scene, which cracked me up). The problem is that these parts are few and far between, and all the gaps are filled in by a whole lot of shoddy storytell­ing and sequences that try very hard to make you laugh but never quite get there. I walked out desperately clinging onto those few one-liners and jokes that were actually funny be­cause I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by guilt for having spent $7 on a sloppy movie with a patchy storyline that would’ve gotten a C- in any self-respecting undergraduate filmmaking course.

The movie starts off introducing us to three nice-guy characters who are very good friends and who each has a uniquely “horri­ble boss.” Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman) has a white-collar job and has been working very hard to be awarded the senior VP po­sition by the sadistic Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), only to be spurned by Harken (who then offers the senior VP post to himself ). Dale Arbus (Charlie Day), a registered sex offender, is sexually harassed by his sex-crazed dentist boss, Dr. Julia Harris (Jenni­fer Aniston), who demands that Dale have sex with her or she will tell Dale’s fiancée that they did have sex. Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) has a good rapport with his boss Jack Pellitt (Donald Sutherland), but Pellitt dies of a heart attack and Kurt is forced to deal with Pellitt’s amoral, profligate and big­oted son, Bobby (Colin Farrell) as his new boss. In the midst of a recession, all three of them realize that they will be unable to find other jobs without the blessing of their bosses. After a while, their frustrations come to a fore and they decide to kill their boss­es. They approach a hit-man, Motherf***er Jones (Jamie Foxx) and ask him for advice. Jones, a simple video pirate who pretends to be a hit-man so he can take their money, sends them out to collect intel on the three targets. After doing their reconnaissance work, they try to kill each other’s bosses, but find that they are unable to do so due to moralistic (and in Kurt’s case, sexual) com­pulsions. The plot takes a turn when Nick sees Harken shoot Bobby, and suddenly they are one boss down. As the characters try to make sense of it, the rest of the story fol­lows the resolution of the other two conflicts through a series of escapades and gags.

The plot is really quite base and digres­sive. At the end of it, you have a strand of a storyline (the employees rising up against their bosses) that is just that. Only a strand. The direction is very, very ordinary and to­tally unremarkable. The one saving grace of this movie is the acting. The three leads have an interesting chemistry that keeps the movie from dropping into total oblivion. Jennifer Aniston manages to pull off a performance that just (barely) manages to pull itself out of stereotypical, titillating drudgery, which is in itself quite an achievement.

Overall, I’d say that if you have a choice, watch something else. If you don’t, go in with low expectations. You will not hate it, but you will be hard pressed to appreciate it.

Contact Srikar Gullapalli at [email protected]