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Horrible Bosses: movie review

'Horrible Bosses' takes frat humor to the work place, in this crude comedy that resurrects the 'Hangover' formula.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / July 8, 2011

In ‘Horrible Bosses’ (l. to r.) Donald Sutherland plays the paternal owner of a firm who’s stepping down so his cokehead diva son, played by Colin Farrell, can take over. Jason Sudeikis is an accountant saddled with the new horrible boss.

Warner Bros. Pictures

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The title alone – "Horrible Bosses" – is probably enough to pack 'em into the multiplexes. Vicarious vengeance has always been a black comedy staple. But I came out of this film muttering "horrible movie," and I suspect I won't be alone.

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The film's shaky premise has three buddies bumblingly plotting to finish off their very bad bosses. Nick Hendricks (a fine Jason Bateman) has always believed that sucking up to the head honcho is the best way to succeed in business – that is, until his loathsome supervisor Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey, recapping his performance from "Swimming With Sharks"), gleefully fails to deliver a promised promotion.

Accountant Kurt Buck­man (Jason Sudeikis), who was coddled by his company's paternal owner (Donald Sutherland), is confronted by Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell), the new owner and boss's son, a cokehead diva looking to make a fortune funneling toxic waste into an unsuspecting community.

Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) is a gangly dental assistant, happily engaged to be married, whose predatory boss, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), will stop at nothing, not even blackmail, to get him in the sack or the stirrups.

It would have been nice, of course, if the three screenwriters attached to this project – Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan Goldstein – had managed to work a disgruntled female worker into the mix. But, of course, this is a guy comedy.

Of the 13 names listed in the directing, producing, and writing credits, only one is a woman.

This probably explains why the humor, even for this genre, is especially coarse – as if we in the audience might ask for our money back if there wasn't some kind of porno-laced gross-out in the dialogue every minute.

There is no compelling reason, other than the "Hangover" era in which we find ourselves, why this coarseness has to be a given. The bar, apparently, has to be continually raised – or is it lowered?

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