There's a whole lot to like about "Horrible Bosses": Jennifer Aniston as a gutter-mouthed, sex-starved nympho-dentist; Kevin Spacey in a viperous performance of corporate sadism; and, maybe most of all, Colin Farrell with a hideous comb over. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day play the vocational doormats that conspire to terminate each of their respective employers. For tips on effective rub-outs they go to a shady hood-rat named Mother****er Jones (a magnificently leery-eyed Jamie Fox) who advices them to kill each other's bosses -- thereby extinguishing motive and cutting any ties to the crime.
It's funny how well Hitchcock's "Stranger's On A Train" conceit translates to a broad and brazenly risque modern comedy about workplace hell and the three stooges who'd rather commit murder than find new jobs. (In this economy, it's almost understandable). The fact that the trio of titular bosses is so cartoonishly evil (in Aniston's case I think it's a naughty cartoon) and the performances are so bravely disgusting, greatly strengthens the film's appeal. Aniston -- spitting Penthouse vulgarity with shocking abandon -- plays Dr. Harris like Rachel Green gone terrifyingly, and tantalizingly, bad. The film never explains why she's so desperate to bed her hygienist Dale (Charlie Day of "It's Always Sunny" fame), but never the less he's a cowering puppy in the face of her abusive sex-goddess persona. It's galvanizing, and more than a little scary, to watch Aniston in such a provocative role.
Kevin Spacey, as Bateman's cruel, self-promoting (literally) executive, is no stranger to the ways of cinema fiendishness. (Kaiser Soze, John Doe... anybody?) Here he's not so much pure unadulterated evil as that smug douche you just wanna strangle the life out of; he's equally good at both. Colin Farrell got the short end of things with his role as a spoiled punk who takes over his father's construction company and subsequently torments his subordinate, Kurt (Sudeikis). In one scene he talks about tainting a town's water to save a buck and in another he does blow off a stripper's backside. I would have liked to see more of him.
In fact, I would have liked to see more of all the "bosses". But they get sidelined. Bateman, Sudeikis and Day are as funny as you might expect, but they can't shake their archetypal personalities. Bateman's all tense, stoic insecurity. Sudeikis and Day -- who have only recently made the leap to the big screen -- play the arrogant wiseass and kind-hearted creepo, respectively, we've come to love on our living room flat screens; but neither will be getting a leading role anytime soon. The film ultimately becomes a saga of obedient white boobs learning that crime is harder than it looks. It has serviceable and moronically amusing results, yet it still feels like something more devious was on the menu, especially considering what marvelously off-kilter monsters Aniston and company make. Although it does leave room for, arguably, the film's best moments -- ones involving Jamie Fox's pseudo-intimidations and inner-city histrionics. His Mother****er Jones is a delightful riff on the stereotype that just because a guy's black and looks and acts tough means he must be an expert on crime. "Horrible Bosses" could have used more of that clever cultural lampooning, but for now, I guess the senseless misadventures of white wannabe hit men will have to suffice.