Although they might not admit it, most people have spent hours planning the perfect murder at work. Luckily for the world’s real horrible bosses, the movies have taught us that plans worked out around the water cooler rarely end well.
Updating the 9 To 5 revenge fantasy with an unhealthy dose of black comedy, Seth Gordon’s buddies-in-crime farce is crude, amoral and frequently hilarious.
Corporate whipping boy Nick (Jason Bateman) works for an arrogant bulldozer (Kevin Spacey) who enjoys keeping him dancing for a promotion. Dental assistant Dale (Charlie Day) works for a psychopathic sex pest (Jennifer Aniston) who turns harassment into an art form. And accountant Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) works for the manager’s weaselly son (Colin Farrell) who’s idea of “trimming the fat” is to fire the overweight employees first.
Instead of starting a fight club like any other jaded suburbanite, the friends decide their bosses have to go. After fruitlessly searching for a hitman, they decide to get their hands dirty by “swapping murders” with each other. Bateman and Sudeikis muddle through amiably enough, but it’s Charlie Day (star of anti-sitcom It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) who keeps the movie going.
That said, a neat idea, sharp script and charismatic leads will only get you so far, and it falls to the starry supporting cast to lift the movie above the crowd of Hangover wannabes.
Given free reign to make the bosses as horrible as possible, Kevin Spacey’s bullyboy, Jennifer Aniston’s nymphomaniac and an almost unrecognisable Colin Farrell work overtime for the laughs. Cameos from Jamie Foxx and Ioan Gruffudd round off the kind of ensemble you don’t usually expect to find in a film where someone scrubs their ass with another man’s toothbrush.
Racist, homophobic, misogynist and juvenile, Seth Gordon’s jet-black comedy is also unexpectedly warm hearted, with softer edges than might have been expected. Eventually getting knotted up in its own twists and turns, it bails itself out with a disappointingly tidy ending – too afraid to take the last step over the edge.
Extras-wise it’s hard to believe there wasn’t enough discarded improv to fill a boxset, and it’s a shame the end credit outtakes are all we see of the cast’s extra work, with only a handful of featurettes to pad out the triple play. Still, this is a perfect excuse for calling in sick and laughing your murderous rage away.