One universal experience shared by all is the terrible boss. We've all had one: that person who manages to make every day of work a living hell, driving us crazy in different ways. Horrible Bosses takes this concept to its extreme conclusion, as three friends plot to kill each other's terrible bosses.
Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman) has been at his company for eight years, working hard and taking abuse from the ruthless, uncaring Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) in the hopes of getting a promotion. Dale Arbus (Charlie Day, best known from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) is a dental assistant who's thrilled to be getting married -- but always fending off the extremely overt sexual advances of his boss, dentist Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), who usually makes the moves on him over a patient who's getting gas. And accountant Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) actually likes his boss and his job -- until the boss dies and the company is run by the boss' son Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell, almost unrecognizable with a bad comb-over and gut) -- who wants to fire people, get rid of dangerous chemicals cheaply, and do a lot of cocaine and bimbos.
Bad as the bosses are, they get worse: Harken gives the promotion to himself and will sabotage Nick if he tries to quit; Pellitt forces Kurt to either fire people or get fired along with them; and Julia tells Dale if he doesn't sleep with her, she'll break up his marriage with compromising photos taken while Dale was under the gas. This leads Nick, Kurt, and Dale to go from hypothetical "wouldn't it be great if our bosses were dead" complaining to actively planning to kill them. After a very misdirected attempt to get a hitman online, they wind up with Dean "Motherfucker" Jones (Jamie Foxx), who acts as their "murder consultant" and urges them to kill each other's bosses, thereby dodging a motive for each one. The three friends are then off to get intel on the bosses so they can do away with them.
For a movie about abusive bosses and murderous revenge (and with a lot of cursing and sexual situations, Horrible Bosses is surprisingly light, like a prime-time sitcom. To keep the main characters sympathetic, the murder plans never feel real or dangerous (especially after Dale saves Harken from an allergy attack). And of course, the bosses are one-dimensional, there to be hated and to have their come-uppances cheered. The situations are silly, the coincidences convenient and unbelievable, and the ending feels rushed and underwritten.
With that in mind, Horrible Bosses can be pretty funny at times. Jason Bateman has done the drym befuddled character plenty of times, so he has the dry humor down pat. Charlie Day is terrific, as the neurotic, slightly whiny guy who comes across as both nice and pathetic all the time. And Jennifer Aniston manages to turn what could be a sexual fantasy into a workplace nightmare, a sexual terminator who never takes "no" for an answer. Despite the R rating, Horrible Bosses is funny fluff that's surprisingly light.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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