In recent weeks, we've seen a deja vu hangover and a teacher who wasn't as bad as she could be. Both movies promised more originality and amorality than they delivered.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have the best adults-only comedy of 2011, and there's nothing ladylike or gentlemanly about it.
Horrible Bosses is an immediate classic in the annals (two "n's" please) of down and dirty humor, the kind of movie that Mom should wash your eyes out with soap for watching. It's also a movie aiming below the belt that never forgets to work above the neck. Whatever I can't explain in this respectable publication I won't explain to avoid spoiling the wicked twists and turns Seth Gordon's film takes.
Not even the red band trailer for Horrible Bosses suggests how low this movie stoops for laughs. Neither does it reveal how diabolically Gordon turns the 9 to 5 fantasy of murdering an obnoxious employer into screwball hilarity. Think of The Hangover as directed by Alfred Hitchcock and you'll have some idea of what's in store.
Nick (Jason Bateman) is a paper pusher expecting his despicable boss (Kevin Spacey) to anoint him the company's next vice president. It won't happen, and quitting on principle will only guarantee a career-killing letter of nonrecommendation. Spacey slithers into this role with easy gusto; he's Keyser Soze with an even bigger God complex.
Nick's buddy Dale (Charlie Day) works as an assistant for an incredibly hot and bothersome dentist (Jennifer Aniston) demanding sexual favors, even with a gassed-up, passed-out patient in the room. Heck, she'll use the client as their bed if Dale will go along with it. Aniston seems remarkably at ease with depravity, making you wonder why she hasn't tried this sort of gig before.
Another pal named Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) loves his chemical manufacturing job and boss (Donald Sutherland) — until the old man dies and his oversexed, coked-up son (Colin Farrell) takes over. He's a clueless supervisor for whom being overweight or in a wheelchair is reason for termination. The only things worse about this guy than his personality are his comb-over, a home decorating style described as Sharper Image throwing up, and a touch of Bruce Lee wanna-be.
These characters absolutely deserve to die. Nick, Dale and Kurt just don't know how to do it.
From there, Horrible Bosses spirals to the heights of lewd lunacy. There's a "murder consultant" (Jamie Foxx) with an unprintable name suggesting the men kill one another's bosses to avoid suspicion. "Like Strangers on a Train," one says, and Dale thinks that's a Danny DeVito movie. The murder plots thicken and blend with clockwork precision, with everything you see and hear taking on greater and funnier importance later.
The result is the funniest comedy of degeneracy since Bad Santa, and a career-changer for Aniston and Farrell if they'll only keep following their perverted muses. Horrible Bosses spins hostile work environments into a movie surpassing 9 to 5 and Office Space as the touchstone flick for disenchanted drones.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365.