‘Horrible Bosses’ Review

Published 4 years ago by

Horrible Bosses Review Horrible Bosses Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick Reviews Horrible Bosses

On paper, Horrible Bosses has quite a bit going for it: an entertaining story idea (a trio of friends set out to murder their “horrible” bosses), as well as an ensemble cast featuring Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, and Jamie Foxx.

However, beyond the relatable premise (don’t lie, you’ve thought about it), do the combined efforts of the cast and crew succeed in delivering an entertaining time at the movies?

Somewhat. Horrible Bosses isn’t likely to be a sleeper-hit like The Hangover or Bridesmaids – where sharp scripts, relatable stories, and hilarious performances created must-see movie fervor. Instead, the film is an average summer comedy with a number of silly moments but few laugh-out-loud surprises – and makes zero attempt at rectifying the twisted premise in any meaningful way.

Horrible Bosses was directed by Seth Gordon, who some film fans will remember for his thoughtful, fascinating, and well-executed, documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Other film fans will, unfortunately, remember Gordon for his studio feature debut, the rom-com Four Christmases starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon.

Unlike Four Christmases, in Horrible Bosses Gordon isn’t saddled with romance or character-defining sub-plots, so the plot is surprisingly straightforward. The film revolves around the storylines of three high school friends who each love their jobs – save for their respective evil bosses.

Horrible Bosses starring Jason Bateman Charlie Day Jason Sudeikis Horrible Bosses Review

Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, and Jason Bateman in 'Horrible Bosses'

Executive Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman) has worked under Dave Harken, president of sales (Kevin Spacey), for nearly a decade – only to be slighted when Harken dangles a promotion in front of him and then nixes the position. Soon-to-be-husband Dale Albus (Charlie Day) loves his fiance’ and works as a dental assistant – but faces unrelenting sexual harassment from the hot-but-loony, Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston). Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) is an accountant at a family-run chemical company. When Buckman’s boss/father-figure Mr. Pellitt dies, his coke-addicted son Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell) takes over the company. In a thin but serviceable plot-point, the characters get drunk and find the roughest bar in the city – where they find a “murder consultant” (Jamie Foxx) to help rid them of their bosses for good.

Unfortunately, despite a fun premise, the film is especially formulaic and doesn’t offer very many surprises. Each character is given a galvanizing (and over-the-top) motivation for having to actually kill their boss, instead of simply quitting, and the overarching story plays out in a ridiculous series of events that, while entertaining from beat-to-beat, are especially cartoonish once everything has been wrapped-up in a neat bow. As a result, the “characters” are more like entertaining caricatures (corporate tycoon, womanizer, sex-crazed hottie, dead-beat jerk, etc…), so it’s hard to invest in the story beyond the absurdity of what’s playing out in each scene.

It’s not that Gordon needed to spend a lot more time on the characters, but for a film about a bunch of likable guys who seemingly have no choice but to murder people, it’s hard for the onscreen events to hold any tension or weight – because everything is just so ridiculous. Outside of the opening five minutes, the film is very linear driving from point A to point B and onward without taking enough time to truly justify the absurd decisions that get made with  straight-faced sentiment.

Horrible Bosses Charlie Day Jennifer Aniston Horrible Bosses Review

Jennifer Aniston is a 'Horrible' boss

That said, many of the scenes are pretty enjoyable – primarily due to the trio of “horrible bosses.” While Bateman, Day, and Sudeikis give competent performances, it is Spacey, Farrell, and Aniston that elevate the film beyond its basic dark comedy plot-point. Each of the high-profile actors commits to the absurdity of the story and delivers a performance that will genuinely make audience members wish the trio of wannabe-murderers would actually succeed. While the “bosses” are deplorable in the film’s world, they end up being the heroes of this particular movie-going experience (i.e., the ones who solicit the most laughs).

Horrible Bosses offers a number of hilarious moments, yes, but it never fully unlocks the potential of its premise. Admittedly, it’s a hard premise to reconcile, but that’s what separates a great dark comedy from an average comedy with a dark premise: the ability to pump actual depth into twisted subject matter while still managing to be humorous. Instead, Gordon delivers a film that rides on the coattails of the movie’s pitch for the entire runtime – without even attempting to offer some kind of deeper insight or social commentary.

As a result, even with over-the-top performances from Spacey, Farrell, and Aniston, Horrible Bosses still looks better on paper than it does on the big screen.

If you’re still on the fence about Horrible Bosses, check out the trailer below:

[poll id=”168″]

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick — and let us know what you thought of the film below.

Horrible Bosses is now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. So is it a “Dumb and Dumber” style of over the top absurdity or is it more “Men at Work” style of goofiness with a lot dead space in between?

    I really want to see this is if it is more of the former than the latter?

    • That’s a hard spectrum to work with 😉 But “Dumb and Dumber” was much more lighthearted, in terms of the larger story, so all the cartoony content worked. “Horrible Bosses” isn’t nearly as cartoony but the characters are just as thin.

      It has a number of isolated funny moments – but everything in between is in service of getting to those few moments.

  2. I sort of still want to watch it anyway because of Spacey, Farrell, and Aniston. But probably not at the theater.

  3. Was planning on watching this. After seeing the trailer, I still don’t see how having a real hot boss(Jennifer Aniston) harassing you sexually everyday would be a bad thing. They even mention that in the trailer I saw. Haha.

  4. i wasnt expecting much but it’s good to know that the movie does deliver on some level. I’ll see a matinee this week for the cheaper price and less crowded theater

  5. Personally, I loved it and thought it was hilarious. Haven’t seen Bridesmaids yet to be able to compare them, but I’d say I enjoyed it as much if not more than Hangover 2. I kinda found the multiple references to it being a dark comedy odd because, honestly, it didn’t really come off to me at all as a dark comedy, anymore than I would consider the first Hangover a dark comedy. The style, execution, and tone of the humor in the movie do not resemble a dark comedy, nor did they try to in my opinion. I can see why from the premise you would naturally, before watching the movie, want to categorize it in the dark comedy genre, but to continue to do so after seeing it feels like trying to put a round peg in a square hole… But that is, of course, just my own personal opinion, and to each their own, I always say

  6. I dunno, I’ve seen various clips of it on the late night circuit, it seems fairly funny to me. one of those movies you need to take at face value in order to fully enjoy it.

  7. Unfortunately this is one that I have to wait for Bluray to check out. When it comes down to spending $10 on each ticket and the price of snacks we only go see the movies that are enhanced by the theater experience. So even though this sounds like it’s something I’d enjoy I have to wait. Potter next week though.

  8. It was okay. The 3 leads just say stupid things that don’t make sense in order to get laughs. the bosses are solid and more likeable then the leads.

  9. Just got back gonna have to disagree. Easily comedy of the year. Better than even Cedar Rapids which was great. This movie was absolutely hilarious, but never let it’s self fall to far in to stupid humor to become a Will Ferral type film. It managed it’s Dark, smart and stupid humor to a perfect balance. I’d go as far as to say this easily makes it in to my top 15 comedies of all time. I absolutely loved it.

    It seems to be getting pretty well reviewed over 70% over at Rotten Tomatoes. Glad to so most people that it was good.

  10. My lady and I laughed a LOT during it…and she’s not one to laugh at a movie.

    • +2. My wife and I just got out and HAD to tell more people to see this fracking hilarious movie!!!

  11. I’m actually really looking forward to Horrible Bosses especially since the reviews are so great it’s even going to be better I think. Bridesmaids was the funniest film I had seen in a long time and now folks are saying this is just as funny if not funnier so guess where I will be today. And with that new sexy Jennifer Aniston look? I’m really there!

  12. Seen it online. Thought it was funny. Laughed more at this than The Hangover II. The 3 big stars made the movie for me. Nice to see Aniston in a role like this. She’s a sex pot in this movie and her performance did not disappoint. It’s worthy of seeing in movies if u can grab the matinee it’s $8.50.

    • “Seen it online” WTH? You pirated it? You’re telling a bunch of movie fans you pirated it? Seriously?? You’re one of the people that is sparking this new IP Protection bill in Congress and getting our broadband packets checked by our ISP’s.

      Sorry, I loved Horrible Bosses and my stomach was hurting so much watching it. BTW, I hated both Hangovers and Bridesmaids was mostly just embarrassing for me to watch except the driving sequence where she tries to get the cop back.


  13. For me, this was the funniest film of the year so far. I thought all 6 players were hilarious. But I just don’t get the problem with the guy who was sexually abused by Aniston; the woman is hot!

    John, I’m watching what you type!!

    Uh, Ok, dear. I mean, Aniston was definitely the worst boss of them all. How could she do such things to a man who is about to get married! :-)

  14. I loved the movie, I laughed out loud more times then at any other movie I have seen this year(I saw “Bridesmaids” and The Hangover 2″). I didn’t think it should be classified as a dark comedy, the main characters didn’t really cross the line they would have needed to classify the movie as such.

  15. I saw Horrible Bosses this eve and I liked it. It was fun and funny most of the time. Still though I think the funniest film this year so far is Bridemaids. Still have not caught Bad Teacher but from the reviews I take it it’s not as good as Bridesmaids or even Horrible Bosses. Overall though I enjoyed Horrible Bosses.

  16. “Horrible Bosses” was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. The crudity and sexual comedy was vulgar, coarse and far too often. The use of foul language was also totally over the top. I’m no prude – but this was like “Amateur Night” at the local art film festival.

    The plot of Horrible Bosses was poorly conceived and hopelessly executed. It lurched from scene to scene with no real conviction. The use of “cityscape night views” was like watching a second-rate US cop drama.

    Throwing a smattering of recently famous actors and a few “screen legends” together on the silver screen is no recipe for success if the vehicle they are riding has a dodgey engine, fuel and no insurance. This movie was pitiful. I almost walked out of “Horrible Bosses”. I stayed to end because I thought – “Surely this must get better?!” – it didn’t.

    “Horrible Bosses” sucked from beginning to end. The only saving grace was the few little “outtakes” at the end which are always good for a giggle – but even these were marred by the Colin Farrell “deleted scene” at the pharmacist.

    “Horrible Bosses” should be pulled from general release. It is offensive, crude, not funny and waste of 1.5 hours of everyone’s life.

    • Agree 100% with Paul. Cheap humor…I walked out for about 20 minutes

    • I agree with Paul.

  17. If this is what passes for comedy, I’m concerned about the people who found it funny. Every single punch line was predictable. It had big names starring in it, and that’s all it had going for it. Very unoriginal. Comparing it to Dumb and Dumber is absurd. Not even the same league.

  18. I am not a person who ever goes online to put my opinion out there, but this movie saddened me as well as disgusted me. Do writers of these movies think that I am so dumb that I cannot understand wit? Does it have to be bombarded with foul language and vulgarity to be impressive? We truly are becoming a deprived nation. We as movie goers have to stop putting up with the garbage that is being passed off as entertainment.

  19. People get paid to write, direct and star in this??
    Absolute garbage.

  20. Thi smovie was great, I literaly laughed my @** off………. yes literaly.

  21. I think the movie would’ve been way better if Kurt was played by Seann William Scott, hes so fitting and is a way better actor than Sudeikis, plus hes way funnier.