So, for eight years straight, Nick (Jason Bateman) has led a pretty much vampiric existence, getting to his office before sunrise and not trudging home till well after sunset. Okay, the hours are all wrong for a vampire, but you know what I mean what with the entombment and lack of sunlight and all. Anyway, he's had
his eye on a ritzy corner office and a vee-pee placard, and if ninety hour work weeks and endless amounts of shit from his raging asshole boss Dave (Kevin Spacey) are what he's gotta suffer through to get there, then...well, he'll do it with a smile plastered across his face. Too bad Dave fucked Nick out of the promotion, instead doubling the size of his own office and...oh yeah!...pretty much doubling his own salary while he's at it. Then there's Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), only he loves his job as an accountant at a chemical company. Um, make that "loved", past tense, since his kindly mentor type (Donald Sutherland) keeled over and his son with the bad combover and a coke habit the size of Rhode Island took over. Ugh. Oh, and things aren't all kittens and rainbows for Dale (Charlie Day) either. I mean, he has a gorgeous boss with a million dollar body (Jennifer Aniston) who's aching to get various parts of Dale inside her. ::pause for a beat:: No, really, that's a bad thing.
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...and I know what you're thinking: just quit! Not really an option, though. Nick's gig is so specialized that his options are pretty much non-existent in the first place, and his prick of a boss has already threatened to poison his name in the industry if he tries to make a move. Kurt genuinely loves his job and the people he works with, and he really doesn't want to see the company get snorted up that asshole's nose. Plus in this economy... Oh, and Dale is technically a sex offender (long story), and that kind of makes life tough for a fledgling dental hygienist. Looks like their options are pretty much limited to certain financial ruin or being gainfully-yet-miserably employed. Hopeless bleak despair. But wait! They have Netflix. They've seen Strangers on a Train. Or maybe it was Throw Momma from the Train. Whatever. Anyway, they clue in that the quickest way out of this mess is to kill the assholes they work
for, and if they off each other's bosses, then the lack of apparent motive ought to make it tougher for the cops to pin the murders on 'em. 'Course, it wouldn't really be much of a comedy if everything went according to plan...
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Not that I really have to tell you this if you've already taken a peek at the cover or...I don't know, turned on a TV this summer, but Horrible Bosses has a great, great, great cast. I mean, Kevin Spacey's got this sort of smug, overbearing prick role down to a science. Colin Ferrell's totally going against type here, reveling in playing a delusional fuck-up without anything even a little bit appealing or redeeming about him. Not that I'm the world's biggest Jennifer Aniston fan or anything, but she's clearly having a blast digging her claws into something other than a cutesy girl-next-door lead in yet another romantic comedy. Horrible Bosses hinges on the idea that you-the-audience would wanna see these bastards' bullet-riddled corpses splayed out all over the pavement, and Spacey, Ferrell, and Aniston play it perfectly...deliriously over-the-top and completely, utterly, totally murder-worthy. You wanna see more of 'em but you want to see 'em dead too. As for the not-bad guys, I'm a fan of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day individually, and I guess it turns out I'm a fan of the three of them as a collective unit or whatever too. It's just a brilliant combination with barrel drums of chemistry to spare, and even though the dynamic means there are pretty much two straight men in the bunch, I can't get over how well it works. Bateman does the stone-faced serious deadpan thing, Sudeikis is the ladykiller (not literally) with enough confidence that he doesn't have to be an asshole about it, and Charlie Day is...well, Charlie, complete with the fake-lawyer-talk, but how is that a bad thing? I'd have forked over eight bucks for a ticket just for the scene with a coked-out Charlie Day rocking the fuck out to The Ting-Tings' "That's Not My Name". The best parts really aren't Big Comedic Setpieces -- although
some of those are pretty great -- but just the banter and little jabs between the three leads, and that's a testament to how flawlessly cast this movie is.
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So, yeah, I really dug Horrible Bosses. I can't say that I was doubled over with laughter for...what was it, 106 minutes straight?...but even if I wasn't constantly cracking up, a lot of the gags do connect, and they're more clever and inspired than what I've gotten from most of the comedies I've slogged my way through so far this year. Its sense of humor doesn't feel like it's warming over more of the same, it's not just a bunch of mindless dick and fart jokes either, and the gaggle of credited screenwriters actually give a shit about constructing a story to go along with it all too. Having a cast like this to elevate the material sure doesn't hurt either. Honestly, thumbing through a list of all the movies that've swooped in and out of theaters this year that I've seen, I'm pretty sure Horrible Bosses gets a shiny little trophy from me as My Favorite Comedy of 2011 So Far. Recommended for sure.
This Blu-ray set piles on both the theatrical and unrated versions of Horrible Bosses, each on separate discs. I haven't seen some canonical list-of-things-that-are-different floating around yet, but the ones that leapt out at me: some additional gay panic-type jokes when Kurt meets with his new boss for the first time, Kenny Sommerfeld upping the desperation handjob ante, and a flashback to how Muthafuckah Jones got his nickname (adding pretty pictures to go with the dialogue, basically). The extended cut is...well, extended. Longer but nothing that memorable. I know it sounds like I'm making a dick joke here, but I pinky-swear I'm not.
Geez, Horrible Bosses is a knockout in high-def...sharp and detailed to the point where it's kinda nuts. There's a really strong sense of depth and dimensionality to the digital photography, and you don't even have to wear any clunky glasses to take advantage. Black levels are punchy, the palette's bright and nicely saturated when appropriate, and the whole thing is glossy and sparklingly clean. Pretty much perfect.
The technical specs are pretty much the same for both of the Blu-ray discs in this set: both dual-layer, both sporting an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, and both encoded with AVC.
Both cuts of Horrible Bosses dish out 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio. For the most part, it's pretty much what you'd expect out of a comedy mix: dialogue up front, rears reserved largely for light atmosphere and reinforcing music, and the score being the only thing that nudges the subwoofer awake. The music is definitely the most memorable thing about this lossless soundtrack, particularly the snare and thundering toms. A few scattered effects take advantage of the surround channels too -- Nick daydreaming about chucking his boss out a twentysomething story window and a garage door opening, f'r instance -- but it's nothing that incendiary or immersive or whatever. A frantic car chase near the end seems like it'd obviously have to grab a chokehold on the rears, but...no, not really, even when the fellas are careening the wrong way down a busy street. There are some subtle splashes of color throughout that sequence but nothing even close to what you'd expect. It's not even a little bit of an ambitious mix, but the whole thing's clean and well-balanced, and I guess that's mostly what I'm looking for out of a comedy mix, so...a check in the "win!" column anyway.
The unrated version is limited to English only, but the theatrical cut heaps on Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in French, Spanish, and Portuguese too. Both versions of the flick feature subtitles in English (SDH), French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
- My Least Favorite Career (5 min.; HD): Director Seth Gordon and a big chunk of his cast chat about the worst bosses they've ever worked for, which...well, could be a lot of fun, but most of 'em speak in such bland generalities that they don't score a laugh or a cringe, and a couple have never actually had all that miserable an experience.
- Surviving a Horrible Boss (6 min.; HD): The first casting featurette focuses on our three hero types, mixing in
talking head interviews about their chemistry, the need to keep 'em relatable, and that wish fulfillment element in with a bunch of behind-the-scenes snippets from the set. The Pro-Tips about surviving a horrible boss come at the very, very end.
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- Being Mean Is So Much Fun (7 min.; HD): ...and Casting Featurette Numero Two-oh aims its cameras at the movie's three badniks who talk about how much of a great time they're having sinking their teeth into such assholes. Like "Surviving a Horrible Boss", it's pretty fluffy and insubstantial too, although there is a little more insight here into the performances, like Colin Ferrell explaining his character's shudder-worthy combover 'cause the guy can't afford hairplugs with a coke habit like that.
- The Making of the Horrible Bosses Soundtrack (6 min.; HD): Gotta admit that the only one of these featurettes that I really liked is this one, swirling around the all-star band behind the movie's score, which includes Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, Dave Matthews Band's Stefan Lessard, and Money Mark of eight quadrillion different things you probably like.
- Deleted Scenes (10 min.; HD): So, what are we looking at here? Two lousier alternate intros. Kurt scoring a date with the cute FedEx chick. Donald Sutherland netting a little more screentime, frowning about not wanting to poison Bolivians. Kevin Spacey getting skewered in a grislier murder fantasy. More of Colin Ferrell's character slinging out gay jokes. A follow-up to the ass-floss thing. A completely unnecessary shot leading up to the climax. Nothing really golden in here.
The version of Horrible Bosses reviewed here comes packaged in a shiny cardboard slipcover. The third disc in the set is a DVD with the theatrical cut of the movie, and there's also a code to stream/download a digital copy of Horrible Bosses on a computer, iPad, smartphone, waffle iron, or pretty much anything, ever. It looks like Amazon also carries a less expensive Blu-ray release that just has the R-rated theatrical cut if you want to save a few bucks.
The Final Word
Horrible Bosses is a helluva lot of fun, and the pretty much perfect cast they've piled together is having such a blast that it really is infectious. A little (well, more like a lot) of chemistry goes a long way, and there are some really clever gags scattered around in here. More of a grinner than a laffer, sure, I still really dug Horrible Bosses, and...yeah, I'm pretty sure it gets the nod as my favorite comedy of 2011 so far. Recommended.