Horrible Bosses

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -4

Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland, Julie Bowen. Comedy. Written by Michael Markowitz and John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein. Directed by Seth Gordon.

FILM SYNOPSIS: For Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), the only thing that would make the daily grind more tolerable would be to grind their intolerable bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston) into dust. Quitting is not an option, so, with the benefit of a few too many drinks and some dubious advice from a hustling ex-con (Jamie Foxx), the three friends devise a convoluted and seemingly foolproof plan to rid themselves of their respective employers…permanently. There’s only one problem: even the best-laid plans are only as foolproof as the brains behind them.

PREVIEW REVIEW: It’s meant as “dark comedy,” but it fails to live up to past films that dealt with murder from a comic perspective. English comedies such as Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Ladykillers were satirical films, usually released by Ealing Studios and often starring Peter Sellers and/or Alec Guinness. They were pithy, witty and staid, which in a way made them even more edgy. Horrible Bosses is just dirty. I finally gave up counting the number of f-bombs used, and while Jennifer Aniston is remarkably at ease with playing a nymphomaniac with a foul mouth, still the characters and the audience spend most of the film sludging around in a cesspool of sophomoric stench.

Hey, I laughed at several lines and situations; these are, after all, very talented people. But I felt ill-at-ease generally because the film’s content nearly always moved from bawdy to crudely grotesque. Shock value has been done to death throughout this era. Rather than trying to outwit their predecessors, countless moviemakers from this generation merely try to out-gross one another. As for filmgoers, they sit in a theater watching and listening to objectionable material as if that’s the only venue from which laughs can be mined. Well, lately it is.

DVD Alternatives: Each of the following reminds us that comedy need not come solely from anatomical and scatological graphicness. Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob, and The Ladykillers (the 1955 version – not the Tom Hanks remake of a few years back).

Kind Hearts and Coronets. Black English comedy about a shunned man calculating the murder of his relatives so that he may inherit the family title and fortune. The violence is more implied than graphic and the story’s outcome just. Alec Guinness plays several of the murdered family members in this icily witty satire.

The Ladykillers is a droll comedy about some inept crooks plotting to rob a bank with the aid of a sweet, innocent old lady. Or is she? The 1955 British version with Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom, and Peter Sellers has a satirical bite. Lacking the crude language of the remake, it settles for wit and snappy storytelling. Better in so many ways than the American remake with Tom Hanks, here Alec Guinness and his gang are more eccentric than outlandish. Though it is old and in B&W, a turnoff for some, there are several hysterical moments.

The Lavender Hill Mob. Alec Guinness stars in this droll comedy about a timid bank clerk who comes up with the perfect scheme for robbing a gold bullion truck. Winner of 1951 Oscar for screenplay.

American filmmakers got it right once: Arsenic and Old Lace. A frantic Cary Grant attempts to keep his two sweet old aunts from poisoning elderly gentlemen callers. Wildly entertaining, with Peter Lorre and Raymond Massey as two very spooky fellows.

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Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Warner Bros. Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Crude sexual remarks; anatomical and scatological graphicness.

Obscene Language: I caught 90 obscenities, mostly the f- and s-words before I stopped counting.

Profanity: Six profanes uses of God’s name and at least seven of Christ’s.

Violence: We see a man thrown through a high-rise window and another shot point blank; a man shoots himself in the leg. Blood: No blood – this isn’t because the moviemakers have standards – they just know people will except the sight of someone being killed so long as blood isn’t’ seen seeping from the victims.

Sex: Mostly it is just talk, but it becomes quite graphic and mostly lewd.

Nudity: Women are often seen scantily clothed.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Drug use is played for laughs; lots of drinking.

Other: None

Running Time: 95 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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