Dave's Rating:

2.5

More harmless than horrible.

Who's In It: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Donald Sutherland, Julie Bowen

The Basics: Three regular guys, all suffering in various ways under the title's horrible bosses (Spacey's a sadistic corporate jerk, Aniston's a rapey dentist and Farrell's a creepy cokehead), make a pact to help murder each other's evil superior. Then it all goes wrong, the way it's supposed to in this kind of comedy, and the murder agenda winds up in the backseat as a Three Stooges-like rampage of bickering, sexual anxiety and accidental drug ingestion takes the wheel.

What's The Deal: Like this summer's Bad Teacher and The Hangover Part II, this movie has plenty of empty laughs to keep you in your seat. And if simply escaping into air conditioning is part of the reason you're planning to see it, then that'll be enough to know; you can stop reading this review and disregard having to think any further. But those empty laughs are empty because they're woven into a story that, otherwise, has nothing to offer. These bosses are generically horrible and they're also considered unusual, unique creatures in an otherwise blissful working world. There's no real rage because the movie doesn't care about going deeper than the idea that a mean person is standing between a comfortably middle-class guy and additional deserved success (exception: Farrell's actions, we're told, will fatally affect unnamed, unseen South Americans). Smarter ideas about revenge, politics and labor are all off the table, and that's weird for a movie where the title promises angry catharsis for everyone who's fortunate enough to even have an employer to hate in the first place.

Which Film Wins The Contest of Treating Its Female Characters Worse? The Hangover and its sequel still hold that distinction since its women are barely on screen at all and passively accept any gross thing the men wind up doing. As characters they don't even register. Here, at least, the women are allowed to do something, even if that something is one-dimensional sexual aggression. In the case of Aniston, she plays the kind of crazed, voracious demoness that lots of men fantasize about but would never really want to meet. The script seems to fear her more than anything else, and her status as "horrible" comes from a kind of porny/jokey dream-date-gone-wrong mentality. Having said all that, she seems to be having a great time breaking from her good girl image, flashing her boobs and delivering the movie's raunchiest dialogue. That'll be enough for a good chunk of the audience.

Why It's Worth Seeing Anyway: Bateman, Day and Sudeikis make a great trio of inept assassins. In fact, their interpersonal grouchiness and ball-busting treatment of one another is where almost all the funny stuff comes from. Charlie Day, in particular, gives the kind of manic, freaked-out, nerdy, nervy performance that builds comedy careers.

After Watching This, Go Back In Time 20 Years For A Workplace Revenge Comedy That's Actually About Something: 9 to 5.

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