With a simple premise and a cast willing to do anything for a laugh, the new comedy “Horrible Bosses” is anything but horrible.
This is a laugh-out-loud, raunchy version of “9 to 5” and is so far the funniest film of the summer.
Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day play three lifelong friends who are stuck in jobs with bosses who are beyond evil. Bateman’s Nick is employed by a ruthless executive (Kevin Spacey) who is intent on holding Nick back for his own financial gain. Kurt (Sudeikis) actually likes his job at a chemical company, but that changes when he finds himself taking orders from the company owner’s coked-out son (Colin Farrell).
Then there is Dale (Day), a dental assistant being sexually harassed by his employer (Jennifer Aniston) on a daily basis. When he confronts her about the harassment, she turns it into a chance to blackmail Dale.
One night the three pals decide they have had enough and set out to murder their bosses, with the plan of making the deaths look like accidents.
With the help of a mysterious murder consultant (played by Jamie Foxx in what amounts to an extended cameo), the three friends set out to make their lives better, only to discover that things can actually get worse.
Directed by Seth Gordon - the man behind the great documentary, “The King of Kong” - “Bosses” makes great work of its ensemble, with the entire cast shining at one point or another.
Spacey is really good, even if he is channeling his performance from the little seen “Swimming with Sharks.” Farrell has lots of fun with his role, while Aniston goes all-in as the foul-mouthed blackmailer. With their star power, Farrell and Aniston could have easily asked to play it safe. But to their credit they don’t compromise here, and the result is two of the best performances of their respective careers.
All three are aided by Gordon’s keen eye for making antagonists slimier and a little more evil than most. It’s one of the reasons that “Kong” worked so well, and it’s a strength of “Bosses,” the perfect adversaries to the film’s bumbling heroes.
Sudeikis has some really funny moments, proving that his work in February’s “Hall Pass” wasn’t a fluke. Bateman is also really good, the straight man to all the insanity going on around him, but it is Day who will likely benefit most from “Bosses.” His bumbling Dale provides the comedy with some of the biggest laughs, including an extended sequence where he accidentally ingests cocaine. This should do for Day what “The Hangover” did for Zach Galifianakis.
It all adds up to a film that is anything but politically correct, and is all the more funnier for it. In a summer full of R-rated comedies, this is the best of the bunch.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is the delightful animated feature “Rango” (A-). With a perfect cast, some very funny and memorable moments and a beautifully designed look, this is a film that rivals anything from Pixar or the first two “Shrek” films. While the film might play a little too much to the adult audience, it is still a jewel that is sure to be appreciated by youngsters as well.
“Rango” tells the story of a domesticated chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt. It’s a town right out of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns - a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.
The chameleon talks his way into the job, developing a persona named “Rango” - a sharpshooting, no-fear outlaw capable of standing up to any villain who crosses his path.
The townsfolk buy his story, making him the new lawman of Dirt. But Rango’s dream job quickly turns into a nightmare when he uncovers the shady dealings of the town’s corrupt mayor (Ned Beatty), who is using the town’s dwindling water supply for his own financial gain.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, the man behind “The Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Rango” is the first full-length feature film from Industrial Light and Magic. I was really impressed with the details of the look of the film, with the town’s buildings made from everything from Pepto-Bismol cups and mailboxes to gasoline cans. This film clearly draws its inspiration from the Eastwood Westerns, with a result that pays homage to the genre quite well.
The script is also smart for an animated film, with pop culture references ranging from “Chinatown” to Hunter S. Thompson and Eastwood among the film’s highlights.
It all could have been diminished slightly if the cast didn’t work, but “Rango” doesn’t have that problem. Depp is as good here as he is in the “Pirates” franchise. He has plenty of support from Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Beatty and Alfred Molina providing some memorable work as well.
I will concede that the film sometimes seems more focused on entertaining its older audience and tends to play above young children. Ultimately, I don’t think that will be too much of a problem - I think there is enough to like for all ages.
That might well be the reason why “Rango” works so well. It’s a film that can play on multiple levels, and succeed at every turn.
“Rango” is rated PG for rude humor, language, action and smoking and will available on DVD on Friday.