Guilty Pleasures win out in Horrible Bosses

There are guilty pleasures and then there’s Horrible Bosses, a film as irresistibly funny as it is helplessly ruthless. Laughing at some of what transpires in this movie is so, so wrong, yet so, so unavoidable.

Charlie Day as Dale Arbus

There are guilty pleasures and then there’s Horrible Bosses, a film as irresistibly funny as it is helplessly ruthless. Laughing at some of what transpires in this movie is so, so wrong, yet so, so unavoidable.

Think Office Space, then turn up the nasty crank to red line and you’re beginning to understand the dark side — or, if you’re in the right mood, the appeal — of this comedy.

It’s a strange animal, really. There are so many things about Horrible Bosses that just aren’t new (Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey and Jason Sudekis are all playing characters they’ve played in other movies), mingled with so many fresh turns (Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell absolutely rock by strutting into unfamiliar territory, the latter to such a point that he’s darn near unrecognizable) that the slam dance of stale and familiar goes juuuuust right with the sadistically screwball romp. We’ve seen this sort of thing so many times, but never quite as ambitious a presentation as this.

The plot has three buddies, all being terrorized (as the title suggests) by horrible bosses. Bateman, a kiss-butt corporate man, is mentally abused with false promises of a big promotion by a manipulative psycho played by Spacey (in full blown Swimming With Sharks mode). Sudekis, an amiable-yet-womanizing blue collar troop, is forced to comply with Farrell, playing, as the film itself so beautifully describes, a “dips*@# cokehead.” And scene-stealing Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) is a dental assistant harassed by his sex-crazed maneater-of-a-tooth-puller, the shockingly foul-mouthed Aniston.

One night, after some griping and cocktails, the boys decide to hire a hitman (Jamie Foxx, playing a character with such a foul handle, I can’t even drop a hint on it).After dropping some big time coin on the assassin’s services, the trio discover that their hired gun won’t actually commit the murders, but he will offer advice on how to pull them off and how to avoid being tagged for the crimes. Cue absolute chaos … now.

Predictable, yes. But Horrible Bosses is a wonderful surprise in that director Seth Gordon (The Office) doesn’t drench his picture in uncomfortable raunch (a la The Hangover Part II). Come to think of it, Horrible Bosses isn’t really that raunchy, it’s just really, really mean. And you’ve gotta love any movie in which the entire cast seems so happy just to be there. ‘Cause let’s face it, when was the last time Jennifer Aniston looked happy to be anywhere?

Out of a possible five stars, I’ll give Horrible Bosses a three and a half.

The feature is currently playing at the Pen-Mar Cinema Centre in Penticton.

Jason Armstrong is a movie reviewer living in the Okanagan.

 

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