For most college students, there exists a nagging fear of an unfamiliar and daunting realm known as the real world, whether it be battling unemployment or the mundane reality of working nine to five under constant supervision. But the fear is real when it comes to Seth Gordon’s “Horrible Bosses.” Nick, Dale and Kurt are just three of your run-of-the-mill schmucks, cowering in the presence of their bosses — a douchebag, a dominatrix and a cokehead, respectively. Inspiration suddenly strikes them and the next 93 minutes capture their quest to bump off their bosses (no, that is not a euphemism) and, in turn, acquire some sort of a backbone. Take this novel idea, set it against an all-star cast that brims with charm and you end up with a film that may not deliver the most original humor but acts as the ideal summer comedy romp.
Nick (Jason Bateman) is the merry leader of this group of disheartened men, narrating their individual tales of woe. Withering his days away in a hellhole of an investment firm, Nick is controlled by a boss (Kevin Spacey) that embodies the essence of the jackass banker stereotype. Of course, misery loves company and Nick finds comfort in the fact that he isn’t the only one who is hopelessly whipped by his job. Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) is forced to report to a bawdy leader (Colin Farrell) who lives life like he is still in a frat. And Charlie Day is Dale, a former child molester (it was dark and he needed to pee, don’t ask). Dale’s troubles pale in comparison to the others, however, as his recently engaged self struggles to fend off the absurdly aggressive advances of his superior (Jennifer Aniston) who, unfortunately, has an insatiable libido.
The trio finally decided that they are mad as hell and they sure aren’t going to take it anymore. No longer afraid to get their hands dirty, they hire a so-called “murder consultant,” uniquely named Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx). And here, in the midst of their sleuthing, is where their new-found confidence and maturity come into play. Shoving razors down pants, snorting cocaine, hooking up with married women — on a second thought, perhaps not.
Interestingly enough, the consistently light-hearted atmosphere acts as both the film’s highlight and its downfall. Day is ever-so-charming with his childlike innocence and endearingly pathetic mastery of situations. And surprisingly, the scenes prove that humor can be achieved without a plethora of penis jokes. But with such a loaded plot twist choice as a murder, the film opens up a world of darker, more intriguing possibilities. Unfortunately, “Horrible Bosses” sticks to the casual flings of a mere comedy. Their deus ex machina of an ending (with a technological twist) opts for cheap laughs rather than refreshing wit.
But perhaps a light comedy is exactly what the summer needs. After the disappointing flops at the box office, from super-sized action flicks to lackluster sequels, “Horrible Bosses” delivers easy-to-swallow thrills that are actually worth the time and price. It may not be the best example of the underdogs rising to the top, as the motley crew manages to clumsily stumble across a solution. But their antics and ludicrous messes, however, turn Nick, Dale and Kurt into a different kind of wolf pack — more subtle yet still widly entertaining. And that, really, is reason enough to sit through this film.
Cynthia Kang is the arts editor.