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Movie Review: 'Horrible Bosses'

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“Horrible Bosses”
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland, Jamie Foxx, Lindsay Sloane, Colin Farrell
Rated: R

Seth Gordon's satirical comedy, “Horrible Bosses,” is a nice companion piece to Tom Hanks's “Larry Crowne” (reviewed last week).

In “Larry Crowne,” the title character is downsized from a job he loves. He finds himself with no job, a huge mortgage and few marketable skills for today's competitive job market. He decides to go back to college, get a degree and maybe fall in love along the way.

In “Horrible Bosses,” the main characters keep their jobs - a good thing these days - but have, as the title implies, very bad (even horrible) bosses. Each of the three bosses - played with evil aplomb by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell - try in their own special ways to make their employees' lives as miserable as their own. Nearly everyone will be able to recognize the stereotypical bad boss types portrayed here from a times past, or maybe even the present.

Boss No. 1 is Dave Harken (Spacey), a snide, sneering sort whose behavior borders on utter emotional sadism. His favorite target is Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), who is in middle management at the company where they work. Harken constantly toys with Nick's emotions by implying there may be a big promotion in Nick's future - if he plays his cards properly. This includes kowtowing to his insufferable superior. Of course the promotion never comes to fruition.

Boss No. 2 is the hypersexual dentist, Dr. Julia Harris, played by a naughty-mouthed, sexed-up Aniston. This is, for my money, Aniston's high-water mark in her big screen appearances, although she will forever be known for her role in TV's “Friends.”

The doctor turns her attention (and considerable) lust toward her dental assistant, Dale Arbus (Charlie Day). Dale is rather timid and is engaged to be married, so Julia's constant come-ons make him very uncomfortable; he actually has every right to file a sexual harassment suit, but he's not that kind of guy. Dr. Harris, with a patient under anesthesia in the dental chair, squirts Dale's crotch with water and suggests she and Dale have sex right on top of the sedated patient. When Dale requests a meeting with her to discuss the problem, Dr. Harris shows up in her white dental jacket - and nothing else. Aniston seems quite at home in this role and is obviously having fun showing off her somewhat evil naughty side.

The final boss is Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell). Bobby is a low-life cokehead who has taken over running the family company from his dad, the much beloved and respected Jack Pellitt (Donald Sutherland). Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) is an employee who honestly loves and cares about the Pellitt Co. and is a protégé to Jack. Kurt watches in horror as young, reckless Bobby seems determined to send the business to hell in a handbasket. His biggest offense, so far, is his total disregard for environmental restrictions and grabbing the short-term profits resulting from that disregard.

Nick, Dale and Kurt are friends and regularly meet after work for drinks and to commiserate over their respective horrible bosses. Nick and Kurt don't take Dale's sexual harassment claims very seriously, though.

They are envious that a woman as sexy as Dr. Harris would turn her considerable libido toward a regular guy like Dale. Many times they say they would gladly trade places with him. Dale tries to make them see that it is a real problem. He's engaged to be married and wants to save all of his love (and sex) for his soon-to-be bride.

At one get-together, the trio of put-upon employees come up with a radical idea: They could simply kill their bosses. They justify this thought by rationalizing that they would be doing society a favor, ridding the world of such despicable human beings. They realize it's not in their best interests to kill their own bosses, as the trail would be too short back to each one of them. So they make a pact to kill each other's bosses.

What follows is hilarious mayhem, executed very ineptly. The trio of employees are not cold-blooded killers. So, what to do? They hire a (supposedly) cold-blooded killer. To put it politely, let's just call him “M. F. Jones.”

The “M.F.” is one of many vulgarities uttered in the film. Like “The Hangover II,” the salacious obscenities have garnered “Horrible Bosses” an R rating. To be fair, the language is never presented as gratuitous. In fact, the obscene language is such an obvious and true trait of characters such as these that it would be conspicuous by its absence.

“Horrible Bosses” is a good diversion/summertime film that has many moments of hilarity while addressing an ever-growing problem in modern American life. It's hard to hold onto a good job - and like Tom Hanks discovered in “Larry Crowne” - not easy to find another good one. There's also the flip side, being in the position where you have to keep a job you hate, horrible boss and all.
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