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Film: Horrible Bosses

Is your boss a slave driving psycho?
Is your boss a total sleazy tool?
Is your boss a sex crazed maneater?
Ever wish your boss were dead?
Meet your new murder consultant.

Horrible Bosses is a 2011 Dark Comedy film directed by Seth Gordon. It stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx.

Nick has sacrificed everything for his job, and claims that the difference between him and life's failures is that he's willing to take it. He spends six months sucking up to Harken to get promoted—and then he finds out that the position he's trying for will be taken by Harken himself, but at only 85% of the additional salary.

His friend Dale skipped out on the white-collar rat race. Now he's an assistant to Julia. She wants to have sex with him, and doesn't care if he consents.

Their mutual friend Kurt used to like his job, and his boss, Jack Pellitt. Jack just had a fatal heart attack, and his son Bobby is in the process of running the company into the ground.

One night, Kurt suggests that they kill each other's bosses. He means it as a joke. At first.

Not to be confused with That One Boss.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Julia, at least to Dale. She probably wouldn't be this to many other guys (assuming they're single).
  • Accidental Public Confession: Harken gets caught by an Is This Thing Still On? version.
  • Anything That Moves: Julia, Kurt and Harken's wife, Rhonda.
  • Asshole Victim: Pellitt.
  • Awesome McCoolname: "Motherfucker" Jones. He got his name when his mother was passed out drunk and naked, and he took his hand and reached deep inside her purse, stealing all her money. Yeah, he really fucked her over.
  • Ax-Crazy: Harken, who is a power-tripping Jerkass to begin with, easily makes the transition to psychotic murderer.
  • Badass: "Motherfucker" Jones, subverted. He just appears and sounds Badass. He never committed a murder, simply giving advice to the main characters off his own speculation. In reality, the only reason he went to jail was for video piracy. He's not even that great a negotiator.
  • Bad Boss: Yup. It's right there in the title.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: The only murder in the movie is when Harken kills Pellitt.
  • Bald of Evil: Bobby, however hard he tries to cover it with that awful combover.
  • Beard of Evil: Bobby.
  • Benevolent Boss / Cool Old Guy: Bobby's father is this before he dies and his son takes the helm.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Every once in a while, Dale snaps.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The three horrible bosses. By the final act of the movie, however, Harken emerges as the true Big Bad.
  • Bi the Way: Apparently, Bobby.
    as hookers are leaving his house
    Bobby : Thank you, Bill.
    Bill Thank you, Bobby.
  • Black Bra And Panties: See Lingerie Scene.
  • Black Comedy: Though it's ultimately surprisingly idealisticonly one character is capable of murder and it's one of the titular bosses.
  • Bowdlerise: At least some versions of the poster featuring the faces of the three bosses, Julia is described as a "Nympho" rather than the somewhat softer "Maneater" that can be seen at the top of the page.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Jones's fee, although it doesn't completely fill the briefcase he demands.
  • Brick Joke: Kenny, the mutual friend of the three protagonists who will do anything for money.
  • Butt Monkey: The three protagonists.
    • Harken outright spells it out that Nick is his personal Butt Monkey
    "Let me tell you something, you stupid little runt. I own you. You're my bitch."
  • The Cameo: Bob Newhart as Nick's new boss, a "Twisted Old Fuck".
  • Cat Scare: Happens three times, though only the first time is it scary.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted with the digital recorder.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: One example is played extra straight: Harken's paranoia about his wife's fidelity and implied threat to get his gun leads to his murder of Bobby in the middle of the movie. Three more near the end when "Motherfucker" Jones and Kenny both end up helping Dale blackmail Julia, while Kurt's onboard navigator Gregory helps prove that Harken was the one who killed Bobby.
  • Chekhov's Skill: If you count watching Law & Order as a skill.
  • Comic Trio: Kurt, Nick and Dale, complete with frequently slapping each other.
  • Completely Different Title: In Germany the film is called "Kill the boss". In Brazil, it's called "I want to kill my boss".
  • Completely Missing the Point: In-universe, Nick and Kurt fail to see how Dale being repeatedly sexually assaulted by his psychopathic boss is all that bad, just because... well, 'cause she's Jennifer Aniston. A lot of audience members feel the same way. They do see it as a problem, though, it's just that they don't think it's in the same league as their issues:
    Nick: I'm such a sucker! Harken was never gonna promote me...
    Kurt: That coked up prick is gonna ruin Pellit Chemicals. He's just gonna fire everybody!
    Dale: She stood there with her breasts, right in my face!
    Kurt: ...Y'know, yours doesn't sound that bad.
  • Cool Old Guy: Jack Pellitt.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Bobby who has no problem dumping harmful chemicals to save Money.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Harken.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Julia while she's on the phone with Dale, and referenced by Jason Bateman's opening voiceover.
  • Dead Star Walking: Donald Sutherland as Jack Pellitt. Quite obvious given the film's basic premise.
  • Depraved Dentist: Julia, on a scale not seen since Steve Martin wore a gas mask in Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Why Motherfucker Jones spent ten years in prison.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Kurt gets this. Badly. Twice. Once with his intended murder victim and later during an Engineered Public Confession.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: The film's position on this is a little murky. On the one hand, Dale is upset by what happens and calls Julia a rapist and she is clearly portrayed as a horrible person, but the sexual harassment scenes are also Played for Laughs. On the other hand, Dale's friends, and a good portion of the audience, clearly believe that Rape Is AWESOME When It's Jennifer Aniston. Note that Dale's the only one of the three in a relationship, and his fiancee is barely in the movie. She basically only exists to give credence to the idea that him being sexually harassed is an actual problem.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Bobby has seriously messed himself up on cocaine.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Julia's job allows her to drug men unconscious. She takes advantage of this at least twice.
    • Hoist By Her Own Petard: Dale takes advantage of this at the end to trick her into nearly raping his (very much awake) friend.
  • Dumb Blonde: Harken's wife Rhonda doesn't seem the brightest bulb, being unable to tell what guests she invited to a party she is organising.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For the three main characters. One has his boss murdered in his house, another has his boss taken to prison for killing the first boss and the third one has his boss humiliated and blackmailed in retribution to all the sexual harassment said boss had made in the past.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Double Subverted.
  • Erotic Eating: Julia eats a popsicle, a banana, and a hot dog, in that order. Kurt is dumbfounded.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Apparently, Julia does respect the sanctity of marriage. Although, this only means Dale has until the wedding to have sex with her, willfully or not.
  • Evil Feels Good: Not who you'd think; it's actually Harken who starts to like killing.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Nick tells Harken that it was due to his long hours that he was unable to say goodbye to his grandmother, whom he calls "Gam-Gam," while she was dying. Harken responds by laughing at the fact that Nick called his grandmother "Gam-Gam."
  • Expy: Harken is basically Buddy Ackerman from Swimming with Sharks, played for laughs. Also, Wendell Pierce's cop character is basically Bunk Moreland from The Wire partnered with Ron White. Dale has more than a few similarities with Charlie, right down to his Artistic License - Law derived from watching Law & Order.
  • Extreme Doormat: Nick. Dale and Kurt stand up to their respective bosses from the get-go—albeit to no avail—but Nick doesn't assert himself with Harken until after Harken reveals that he's not going to promote him; Nick even says in voiceover at the beginning of the film "that the key to success, and no one will teach you this in business school, is taking shit."
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The three bosses are choleric (especially Harkin), Nick is phlegmatic, Dale is melancholic and Kurt is sanguine.
  • Freudian Trio: Kurt is the Id, Dale is the Ego and Nick is the Superego.
  • The Hedonist: Bobby Pellett.
  • Here We Go Again: Nick's new boss.
  • Hookers and Blow: Bobby's principal interests.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Kurt yells at Dale for punching him while driving the car...after turning around in his seat to smack Dale repeatedly, as Nick holds the wheel.
  • IKEA Erotica: Julia calls Dale and demands that he describe how he'd pleasure her. He improvises. Poorly.
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: When Nick throws Harken out of a window, to the cheers of his coworkers.
  • Intimate Psychotherapy: Kurt tries this on Julia. It doesn't work very well.
  • Is This Thing Still On?
  • It's All About Me: Bobby's attitude is basically this.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: Dale got drunk at a bar that was next to a playground, and committed public urination. It was night, and there were no kids there, but he's still a registered sex offender, which is why he's stuck working for Julia. Truth in Television, as the legislation enhancing penalties for certain activities near playgrounds, schools and such is based on the location, rather than whether or not there are any children present.
  • Jerkass: All three of the titular bosses.
  • Karma Houdini: Only Julia ends the movie with job and life intact. And still with a cost, as she did get blackmailed in a Crowning Moment Of Awesome for Dale, and due to his false sex offender registration, who else would hire him besides her?
  • Knight of Cerebus: Near the end of the movie, Harken becomes this.
  • Kick the Dog: Pellett forces Kurt to fire a handicapped co-worker for no reason and pretends that he had nothing to do with the decision just to make Kurt look like an asshole.
  • Lack of Empathy: The titular bosses.
  • Large Ham: Dale.
  • Lingerie Scene: Julia undresses in front of a window and then parades around the house in nothing but her undergarments (plus suspenders and stockings) as Kurt watches.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The trio plan to take advantage of the fact that Pellitt is a cocaine addict and that Harken is allergic to peanuts to poison them. They don't actually do either of these things, as Harken kills Pellitt and goes to jail for it.
  • Man Child: Bobby Pellett.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Harken.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Averted with Dale and played straight with Kurt. Dale rejects Julia's advances because he's engaged and because it's unethical to sleep with one's employer, whereas Kurt is a horndog who hits on every pretty woman he meets.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Bobby Pellitt's willing to let thousands of people in Bolivia die rather than pay extra to properly dispose of chemicals.
  • The Millstone: Dale is more or less to this film what Alan is to The Hangover.
    • Kurt's out-of-control libido and fondness for vulgar jokes doesn't help, either.
  • Mistaken for Badass: The "Wetwork Man". The protagonists think he is a Professional Killer. He actually urinates on people for money. This is why you should not hire assassins off the internet.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: "Large Marge"
  • Ms. Fanservice: Despite acting like a total creep, Jennifer Anniston is still very nice to look at.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Why Harken kills Pellitt — the irony being that the victim isn't actually the hypotenuse.
  • Nice Guy: Dale is what happens when you take the standard sweet, innocent working girl who gets sexually harassed in movies like 9 to 5, flip her gender, and change absolutely nothing else. He's not exactly effeminate, and he's definitely not camp, but he's still a very unusual example of a positively portrayed straight male character with traditionally feminine virtues and flaws. (Then again, he also has the buried rage common in said working girls . . .)
  • Nice to the Waiter: If only the bosses had treated their employees with something resembling decency, they wouldn't have ended up dead ( Bobby Pellitt), blackmailed ( Julia) and most likely being gang raped in prison ( Harken)
    • Jack, Kurt's original boss, by contrast is shown as being extremely good to employees and a very honest businessman.
  • Only Sane Man: Nick.
  • Parental Incest: Subverted with "Motherfucker" Jones. When he's explaining how he got his nickname by sneaking into his mom's bedroom one night. As it turns out, he simply stole her money, fucking her OVER.
  • Plot Allergy: Harken is lethally allergic to peanuts.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Pellitt.
  • The Pornomancer: Kurt.
  • Prison Rape: What Harken has to look forward to for twenty-five years, according to Nick.
    • Nick and Kurt argue over who would get raped more if they get sent to prison; when asked, Dale says it would be Kurt, as he seems "more vulnerable".
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Bobby, again.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Bobby's dad is the ONLY one in the entire movie.
  • Running Gag: Harken's cat. They open a medicine cabinet and the cat jumps out.
  • Save the Villain: Albeit inadvertently. Dale gives Harken an epinephrine shot after he suffers an allergic reaction to peanuts. In Dale's defense, he didn't know it was Harken.
  • Scary Black Man: Motherfucker Jones.
  • Sesquipedalian Smith: Motherfucker Jones.
  • Sexual Extortion: Julia does this to Dale as part of a concerted campaign of sexual harassment.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Julia inflicts this on Dale, although she seems to have a better view than the audience.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Donald Sutherland.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Pellett. Good god, Pellett. His apartment is aptly described as "Looking like the inside of the mind of an asshole".
  • Smart Ball: Dale actually manages to use his knowledge from watching Law & Order to get the detectives to admit that since he, Nick, and Kurt are only being questioned and not arrested, there's nothing they can do at the moment to keep them at the station.
  • Smug Snake: Harken and Pellett.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Office Space. Both movies feature three men getting revenge on their bosses (embezzlement in Office Space, murder in this) and had Jennifer Aniston in the cast. Also half is kind of a spiritual sequel to the other Kevin Spacey evil boss movie Swimming with Sharks, though its not as dark and mean as Sharks it does also feature an employee wanting to get revenge on their boss though Guy actually almost goes through with killing his boss.
  • Spoiled Brat: Bobby Pellett - it's obvious for example that the only reason he has a job in the first place is because his dad was the manager.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: "I'll be in the car" could double as Nick's catchphrase.
  • "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder: Name-checked, then confused by Dale with Throw Momma from the Train, earning him a Dope Slap.
  • Take This Job And Shove It: Nick tries this. Then he finds out that to get another job, he'd need Harken's recommendation, and Harken wants him right where he is. This culminates in Harken calling him his "bitch."
  • Taught by Television: Dale learned enough practical law from Law & Order to know that the cops can't hold him if they can't charge him with anything.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Nick and Dale confronting Harken, who they know to be a sociopathic murderer, completely unarmed.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: A few trailers reveal important plot twists, such as Dale saving the life of Nick's boss. One red band trailer shows that Kurt sleeps with Julia while stalking her to plot her murder.
  • Trouble Entendre: the entire conversation with 'the Wetwork Man'.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Bobby Pellitt, a hedonistic Jerk Ass who takes over his late father's company and uses it as his personal piggy bank.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Wet work" does not mean a hitman. It means a man who'll urinate on you for cash.
    • "I'd like to bend her over a barrel and show her the fifty states." Kurt is referring to screwing Harken's wife.
The outtakes feature Jason Sudeikis noting that it may become a real phrase after the movie comes out.
  • Verbal Backspace: When Kurt tries to convince Nick to join the plan.
    Kurt: "C'mon man! What would "Gam Gam" (Grandmother) want?"
    Nick: "She wouldn't want me to kill them."
    Kurt: (beat) "You know what, "Gam Gam" is dead. You need to move on!"

HopFilms of the 2010sHugo

alternative title(s): Horrible Bosses
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