Review: 'Horrible Bosses'

(Three stars)

Every so often a film about bumbling wannabe criminals comes around and bowls us over. "Horrible Bosses" follows the precedent set by such earlier crime-gone-awry comedies as "Ruthless People" (1986), "Throw Momma from the Train" (1987) and "Bottle Rocket" (1996) with gut-busting gusto.

An exceptional cast led by Jason Bateman ("Arrested Development"), Charlie Day ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") and Jason Sudeikis ("Saturday Night Live") helps keep the madcap antics entertaining and unpredictable. But a strong dose of very R-rated dialogue may turn off certain viewers.

Nearly everyone can relate to working under an abusive or intrusive boss, but few employers can rival those depicted in this aptly titled chuckler. Tight-knit buddies Nick (Bateman), Dale (Day) and Kurt (Sudeikis) are suffering the transgressions of their three truly loathsome higher-ups. Nick's boss, Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), is the bane of the bunch, a cruel and callous egomaniac who treats Nick worse than a dirty doormat. Kurt's boss, Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell), is a selfish and irresponsible cocaine addict; and Dale's beautiful dentist boss, Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), makes sexual harassment an obscene norm at the workplace ("Yours doesn't sound as bad," the guys quip to Dale).

Bubbling frustration and a night of drinking lead Nick, Dale and Kurt to hatch an ill-advised murder plot. Soon they are turning to advice from a shady ne'er-do-well (Jamie Foxx) and strategizing ways to off their bosses with all the intelligence of a throw pillow. As they get further immersed in their quickly unraveling scheme, all hell-arity breaks loose.

The phenomenal cast shines in a film that is much more jovial than the title would suggest. Bateman plays it straight and keeps the film from veering into the overtly absurd. Spacey is at his most despicable and Farrell sleazes it up, while Aniston impresses as the consistently inappropriate Julia. But Day serves up the best laughs with his frenetic, live-wire performance.

The film moves at a terrific pace thanks to its charismatic cast and unapologetic script. Although the adult language -- especially Julia's sexually explicit remarks -- would likely make anti-cursing advocates fume, it feels perfectly apropos with the film's theme and story. "Horrible Bosses" does not try to offend, but rather entertain and incite laughter, and in that regard it succeeds wonderfully.

Who knew "Horrible" could be so hilarious?

Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material. 1 hour, 40 minutes.

— Tyler Hanley

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