Imitation is a form of flattery, but not only does the new guys-gone-crazy comedy, Horrible Bosses, bear more than a passing resemblance to the 2009 hit, The Hangover, it apparently owes its life to that film as well. According to one of its stars, Jason Bateman, the screenplay for Horrible Bosses had been doing the rounds for some time, only given the greenlight when the Vegas-set film hit the jackpot.
Admittedly not as fresh or anarchic as The Hangover, Horrible Bosses manages to be a lot more fun than that other film's Thailand-set sequel.
Three mates - Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day) - are experiencing unpleasant working environments due to their respective bosses. Nick has been passed over for a well-earned promotion by the tyrannical Harken (Kevin Spacey); Kurt, who had a wonderful father-like boss (Donald Sutherland) until he died, now has to deal with the cocaine-addled whims of the boss's son, Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell); and newly engaged dental assistant, Dale, is the target of sexually aggressive advances by Dr Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston).
During an alcohol-fuelled 'what if' conversation, the guys hit on the idea of killing their bosses. In the cold, and sober, light of day they decide it's still a good idea and go in search of a hit man, which eventually leads them to Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx). But Jones is more of a "murder consultant", advising them to each murder the other's boss so as to avoid suspicion, like in Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train (you know, the one starring Danny De Vito?).
So ensues a series of comic set pieces as the guys stakeout their intended targets in the hopes of gathering intel to aid in their demise. And while Bateman, Day (star of the little-seen in Australia, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia) and Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live alumni) have an undeniable comic chemistry, it's Spacey, Farrell and Aniston who steal the show. Each plays a grotesque and each revels in it.
Spacey is no stranger to playing the bad guy but he also gets to exercise his comic muscles here, while Aniston gives her best performance in years playing against her good girl typecasting (she also gets my favourite line in the film). Sadly, there's not enough of Farrell's more-paunch-than-raunch Bobby, but he's hilariously 180 degrees away from his usual sexy persona (which we'll see in the forthcoming Fright Night remake).
Directed by Seth Gordon, best known for his work in television comedies such as Modern Family, Community and The Office, Horrible Bosses doesn't explore the darker themes of its humour but successfully continues the 2011 trend of crude comedy. And going by box office figures alone (the film has taken $100 million+ at the US box office), there's an audience for it. Either that, or people embrace the idea of killing their employers.