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Indulge your dark side with ‘Bosses’

POSTED: July 7, 2011 1:30 a.m.
/Warner Bros. Pictures

From left, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis star as the loveable abused employees in "Horrible Bosses." This dark comedy provides the most laughs of the summer.

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Just about everyone has had a boss who made their lives miserable, so we can all relate to this summer’s darkest but funniest comedy.

"Horrible Bosses" is a cross between "9 to 5" and "Strangers on a Train."

Three best friends each work for bosses who are horrible in different ways, and things escalate to the point where they decide to kill these deplorable people.

Nick (Jason Bateman) works in middle management under company president Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), who constantly toys with Nick, primarily by dangling a promotion in front of him for months. Harken also does things like invite Nick to have a drink in his office at 8:15 in the morning, then not take a drink himself so he can call Nick an alcoholic.

Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) loves his boss (Donald Sutherland) at the chemical company where he works, but when the boss dies, his greedy, degenerate son Bobby (Colin Farrell) takes over and begins bleeding the company coffers dry and making Kurt’s life hell.

Dale (Charlie Day) suffers a more unique workplace torment. He is a dental assistant, and the dentist, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), is a psycho nymphomaniac who relentlessly tries to force Dale to have sex with her. It may not sound like such a bad thing to be sexually harassed by Jennifer Aniston, but Dale is a moral fellow very much in love with his fiancé (Lindsay Sloane), and Julia is more deviant than sexy.

Each horrible boss pushes Nick, Kurt and Dale to the edge, and they decide something must be done. Being novice murderers, though, they seek advice from Mr. Jones (Jamie Foxx), an ex-con whose first name is not fit for print. Jones becomes the guys’ murder advisor and suggests they kill each other’s bosses to throw police off the trail.

This is a comedy, so as you might expect, everything doesn’t go according to plan. We’ve seen variations on this scenario, but a strong point of "Horrible Bosses" is that the plot keeps twisting unexpectedly until the very end.

For this movie to work, we have to sympathize with Nick, Kurt and Dale. Bateman, Sudeikis and Day are extremely funny together, and we like them a lot.

This role is nothing new for the always dry and endearing Bateman, but this feels like a big moment for both Day and Sudeikis.

Day graduates from his hit television show "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" into his biggest movie role to date. Sudeikis has been in several movies, but never has he been so funny in one of the lead roles. We’re going to see a lot more of both actors.

This story also needs bosses who are real scumbags with no redeeming qualities, and thanks to Spacey, Aniston and Farrell, that is absolutely the case.

Spacey has played this character before (in "Swimming with Sharks"), but one of the joys of the film is seeing Farrell and Aniston play against type. Farrell makes himself as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside, and Aniston plays the first truly villainous character of her career.

"Horrible Bosses" is a sort of payoff for director Seth Gordon, too. Gordon directed the hugely entertaining and smartly structured documentary "The King of Kong." His next movie, though, was "Four Christmases," a completely forgettable holiday movie that wasted the time of everyone who saw it.

After "Horrible Bosses," I’m back to being excited about what Gordon will do next. He has two exciting projects coming up, as it happens, both of which sound more ambitious than anything he has done yet.

I said at the top that "Horrible Bosses" is the summer’s funniest comedy, and I meant it. As much as I liked "Bridesmaids," this is a better movie, and it out-laughs "The Hangover II" by a long stretch.

Indulging in one’s dark side is rarely this much fun.

Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.



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