Anti-globalisation theses on the behavioural tropes of corporations and the jacked-up, fist-pumping assholes that work for them are (unofficially) repackaged as glossy, blackly comic pop-culture vaudeville in Seth Gordon’s Horrible Bosses. It sees a trio of genial, middle-rung clock-punchers take a flailing punt at achieving the American Dream by planning to ritually slaughter their respective bosses.
And you sympathise with them, too: Jason Bateman (still Hollywood’s most sympathetic screen presence) has Kevin Spacey’s manipulative and psychotically paranoid CEO obstructing his path to promotion. Goofy dental assistant Charlie Day is forced to spend his days furiously fending off the sexual advances of his superior, Jennifer Aniston. And office nice guy Jason Sudeikis has to suffer the coke-fuelled fury of Colin Farrell sporting a greasy comb-over and a penchant for customised black satin furnishings – a character clearly modelled on Billy Mitchell, the deplorable Donkey Kong champ in Gordon’s 2007 doc The King of Kong.
It’s familiar stuff; this could’ve been called Man, I Love You Swimming With Old School Hall Passes. But Gordon knows what works and what doesn’t, pushing the leads’ chummy chemistry to the fore while allowing the schematic and, frankly, highly unlikely murder plot to sink into the background. The colourful digressions are actually the best bits, including an apropos-of-nothing conversation between Sudeikis and Bateman as to who would be more ‘rapeable’ in prison, and their run-in with a film-stealing Jamie Foxx as a hot-tempered ‘murder consultant’ named Motherfucker Jones. David Jenkins