movie review: Horrible Bosses

It’s tempting to label Horrible Bosses a post-Hangover comedy. For all I know it may have been in the works before that box-office smash saw the light of day, but it emits the same vibe, even if it doesn’t go to the same extremes. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day work well together as three ordinary guys who share one thing in common: abusive employers. They can’t afford to walk away from their jobs, so they fantasize about doing away with their bosses, then actually try to make that far-fetched scheme come true. It’s when their fumbling goes into high gear that the movie—

—finds its groove.

The bosses are played by Colin Farrell (who has relatively little screen time), Kevin Spacey (who’s frighteningly good—but then, he covered this ground once before in the 1994 indie Swimming with Sharks), and, in a nice gender twist, Jennifer Aniston (as a dentist who is sexually aggressive and demeaning to her assistant, Day).

The movie has just enough raunchiness to identify it as a 2011 comedy, just enough cleverness to admire, and just the right camaraderie among its three male stars, which turns out to be the movie’s greatest strength. Bateman plays straight-man exceedingly well. Saturday Night Live’s Sudeikis is the most daring and reckless of the group, while Day (who is best known for his work on the TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which he also co-created) gets the breakout role as the trio’s prime patsy. Jamie Foxx is quite funny in a featured role about which the less revealed the better.

Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein wrote the screenplay, based on Markowitz’s story, and Seth Gordon, who made his name with the sleeper documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, maintains a good balance between believability (when it matters) and farce. Horrible Bosses may not be exceptional but it is diverting, which is all one could ask of a mainstream Hollywood comedy.

P.S. I couldn’t help but notice, in the scenes set in Sudeikis’ apartment, a framed window card from The Son of Kong. I don’t know if this is an in-joke or an art director’s whim, but it certainly got my attention—even if it did distract me for a moment. All I know is, I want that guy’s decorator working for me.


  1. Andrew says:

    Great review. I’ve read several reviews on Horrible Bosses, and while they’ve been kind of polarized, I get the feeling that we share a similar sense of humor so I’m guessing that I will enjoy this. Not a surprise really, I’m a big fan of It’s Always Sunny, I loved Arrested Development, and going through Kevin Spacey’s body of work would take a while. So I put Horrible Bosses in my Blockbuster Movie Pass queue. Makes me glad that I have Blockbuster too, since Redbox won’t even have this movie until sometime in November. Plus (just in case my opinion ends up being more in line with the other reviewers and I don’t like it) I always have the option of in-store exchanges. Being a DISH Network employee I love telling new customers they can get 12 months of Blockbuster free too. It’s definitely worth checking out.

  2. jason brees says:

    I seriously like your post. You have shared here superb material. Totally incredible review. Thanks a lot.

  3. Francine Thomas says:

    I was lured to Horrible Bosses because of its favorable reviews. Although I laughed at some of the more humorous moments, I found the movie sad and annoying. Annoying and sophmoric because every other word was fuck. Can’t writers be imaginative? Sad because the credits “bloopers” were better than the entire movie. This pandering to the lowest common denominator is getting incredibly boring! What is wrong with reviewers who gave this disaster good ratings?

  4. Lesley says:

    I dont understand scott’s comment about jason bateman. im british and vaguely know the actor, but ive checked on wiki and he doesnt appear to be a ‘has-been’ child actor. From what i can see from the listings, he appears to have been working steadily in t.v. and films since his acting in little house on the prairie.

  5. Scott says:

    How is Jason Bateman appearing in feature films like he’s some kind of huge star? Really, he’s a has-been former child actor who has somehow gotten lucky. He just looks way too out of place with the current crop of film stars. A real anachronism! He was annoying as a child actor , what makes him any better as an adult actor?

    Who’s next, Danny Bonaduce and Brandon Cruz as Batman and Robin? Todd Bridges signing on as Shaft? Maybe Barry Williams, Mike Lookinland & Christopher Knight will all get to appear in the upcoming “Avengers” movie! Sheesh, if Jason Bateman could stage a “miraculous comeback”, then there just HAS to be hope for these guys!

  6. Jim Reinecke says:

    Hey, Claire (and as Judd Nelson said to Molly Ringwald in THE BREAKFAST CLUB “Claire?!? It’s also a fat girl’s name!”): Your rather dyspeptic post reveals a personality that could justifiably increase the membership rolls of any and all “Sexist Dick” clubs. Have you ever considered reducing, Claire? (ah, there, John Bender!)

  7. darci says:

    Just caught this over the weekend, and I’d have to say this is by far the funniest disgruntled worker movie since Office Space…and Jennifer Aniston is waaay better in this movie than in Office Space. Really, all three of the horrible bosses are the real stars of the show, Kevin Spacey plays the evil ruthless boss well, and Colin Farrell is totally in his element as a crazy spoiled coke head boss.

    The bond between the three protagonists is also quite strong, loved when they were at the bar talking about the plan to kill the bosses for the first time, it was some great riffing between the three of them…(also did anyone else catch that new Dirty Heads song w/ the new Sublime guy? It’s called “Lay Me Down” and it’s like the chillest summer jam ever)

    Hope they don’t screw up this good buddy movie by making a crappy sequel (cough, cough The Hangover 2)!

  8. Claire says:

    So, BRIDESMAIDS is terrible, and HORRIBLE BOSSES is decent. I guess it helps to have a penis if you’re going to be in a raunchy comedy. And I guess it helps to be a sexist dick if you want to become a big movie critic.

    Have you considered retiring, Len?

  9. mike schlesinger says:

    Sorry–that last post was supposed to be on the ZOOKEEPER page.

  10. mike schlesinger says:

    Wise-cracking animals and a fat guy who keeps bumping into things and breaking them. Seventy years ago these would have been shorts. Today they’re the main feature!

  11. Norm says:

    Boring……Another let’s be friends movie, so we can take your money and make fun of the system.
    This “new” Hollywood crowd, not much different from the old one. Except drugs are more prevalent, sexual ambiguity at an all time high, and they lower the “insult level”, just long enough to take your bucks. The joke is on “you.”

  12. Herb Stratford says:

    I saw that poster too! Love it!

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