If you were to hear of a movie with the likes of Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, and Donald Sutherland, you probably wouldn’t expect a farce, and you definitely wouldn’t expect those four to be mere sideshows to the likes of the lovable bozos pictured above. I can distinctly remember seeing the preview for this movie, getting excited about the combination of goons, and then realizing we would never take the time and money to go see it in theaters. Then one day I came across Bosses on television, first watching a small chunk then a larger one days later and the day after a larger one still. Before I knew it, I was quoting lines as actors said them, telling friends to watch out for this scene or that, and in general being “that kid” who has seen a mediocre movie countless times.
If you’ll allow me to save some dignity, though, let me point out just how entertaining director Seth Gordon’s light dark comedy really is. Besides Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis being their usual goofy selves, Bosses contains a bevy of award-winning actors showing off a willingness to make fools of themselves. Spacey plays a frighteningly realistic jerk, Farrell a psychopathic cokehead, and if that’s not enough for you, Jennifer Aniston shows up as a nymphomaniac dentist, making for uncomfortably funny scenes with Day’s Dale. And of course Jamie Foxx steps in as Motha****er Jones…because Dean Jones is a “Disney-ass name.”
For the main three actors, there’s not much new here. Day plays his usual crazed self, Bateman takes his punches, and Sudeikis exudes his ironic smarminess to lure his ladies, made increasingly more believable by his ability to get Olivia Wilde to stick with him. There are flat scenes and well-loved bits, but there are also enough shining moments to make you (or at least me) come back again and again. Day sort of always seems to be on something, so why not put him on something? The script itself won’t wow you, and the plot is a tad forgettable, but the chemistry between the stars makes you believe that these three could actually be hanging around in real life, finding all sorts of trouble.
Moreover, the simple cleverness of the movie plays well considering you may or may not have actually fantasized about killing your boss once or twice. Having three of our nation’s finest everymen comedians play out that fantasy makes for a pleasant and quotable movie experience. Stripped of context, the premise is DARK — or at least has the makings of a quirky and dark story rather than the slapstick farce these three make it. With three guys — and they do seem to just be regular guys, and ones you’d grab a beer with– so relatable and effortlessly self-deprecating, it’s hard not to smile regardless of the situation, whether it’s killing someone, discussing public lewdness, or hiring someone to pee on them (You’re going to want to click that link. Only so many chances in life to watch Mr. Fantastic as a man specializing in urine fetishes.)
I’m not urging you to rush out and find a way to watch Horrible Bosses, but I am telling you to take an extra minute, to linger, the next time you’re flipping channels and come across it. The movie won’t change your life, but it will remind you to smile a little, because there’s no reason not to when this many famous and well-respected people are willing to put themselves out there (Colin Farrell’s combover in this movie deserves a star on the walk of fame). Humor in humorous situations is easy. Finding laughs in dark places, in our twisted fantasies, is harder. The movie doesn’t condone killing your boss, but it doesn’t mind you thinking about it.