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Hollywood Product: Horrible Bosses 

Raunchy comedy achieves the baseline amount of laughs

FACE OFF: Jason Bateman (left) and Kevin Spacey star in Horrible Bosses

John P. Johnson

FACE OFF: Jason Bateman (left) and Kevin Spacey star in Horrible Bosses

GENRE: Revenge comedy

THE PITCH: Longtime friends Nick, Kurt and Dale (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) consider killing their horrendous employers — corporate back-stabber Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), a sleazy cokehead Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell) and attractive dentist Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), who's bent on sexual harassment.

MONEY SHOTS: The guys' noisy accidents and panicky arguments inspire fewer laughs than the subtler moments. Nick sputters while trying to drink a class of Scotch when pressured by Dave. Bobby masking-tapes his name over his late father's nameplate. Jamie Foxx's "murder consultant" screws up his face while making calculations in his head. Nick gags himself with a pen. Kurt puts his boss's toothbrush where the sun doesn't shine. Dave jumps up and down like an enraged child when surprised.

BEST LINE: "Mutherfucker Jones would be so proud!" Dale exclaims, referring to their badass murder consultant.

RAUNCHIEST LINE: "I fingered myself so hard to that Penn Badgley guy, I broke a nail," Julia remarks about her "Gossip Girl" viewing habits. Aniston gamely goes for the Bad Teacher/Bridesmaids level of female misbehavior.

MOST OVERUSED LINES: The guys frequently have exchanges where one remarks on a word like "intel": "That means intelligence." "I know what it means." Also, several times a character makes a nonsensical remark and another (usually Bateman) will deadpan, "I don't know what that means." Do the screenwriters know what "repetitious" means?

FLESH FACTOR: Julia locks Dale in her office to talk about sexual harassment while wearing nothing but a white lab coat, panties and stockings, showing off plenty of cleavage. Later, Julia undresses in a window and suggestively eats phallic foodstuffs in her underwear.

SOUNDTRACK HIGHLIGHTS: Day sings along to the Ting Tings' "That's Not My Name." Julia's dental office plays a Muzak version of Cee-Lo's "Crazy." "How Ya Like Me Now" becomes the guys' incongruous theme song.

POP REFERENCES: When Mutherfucker Jones suggests they kill each other's bosses, the guys footnote the criss-cross murder plots of Strangers on a Train and Throw Momma From the Train, which they call "that Alfred Hitchcock/Danny DeVito film." Womany films like The Notebook and Snow Falling on Cedars get amusing shout-outs. Incidentally, actor John Francis Daley, who played Sam Weir on "Freaks & Geeks," co-wrote the screenplay and has a small role as one of Spacey's underlings.

HEY, WAIT A MINUTE: The guys quickly learn about their boss's various unlawful activities, but seem to abandon the idea of anonymously tipping off the police, played by "Treme's" Wendell Pierce and stand-up comedian Ron White.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Kurt flirts with a young FedEx courier. Julia shows off blackmail photos on an iPad. Dale plays Angry Birds. A reference to Applebee's reminds the viewer that Sudeikis' Hall Pass had an extended sequence at the family restaurant chain. Is Sudeikis in Applebee's back pocket?

THE BOTTOM LINE: They've got a Hall Pass — to kill! Horrible Bosses' performance evaluation includes such knocks as lame car chases, flat characterization and poor follow-through on its wicked premise. Aniston and Farrell (in a hilariously lousy comb-over) give hilarious, comeback-worthy performances but go AWOL for long stretches. Nevertheless, the comedy achieves the baseline amount of laughs and Day of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" holds his own, like a hyper equivalent to Zach Galifianakis.

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Horrible Bosses
Rated R · 100 min. · 2011
Staff Rating:
Official Site:
Director: Seth Gordon
Writer: John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein
Producer: Brett Ratner and Jay Stern
Cast: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland and Julie Bowen


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