Follow TV Tropes


Film / Horrible Bosses

Go To

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 Hendricks (Jason Bateman) 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 Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), a typical power-tripping corporate bully, 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 Arbus (Charlie Day) skipped out on the white-collar rat race. Now he's an assistant to Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston). She wants to have sex with him, and doesn't care if he consents — or that he's engaged to be married.

Their mutual friend Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) loves his job, and his boss, Jack Pellitt (Donald Sutherland). That is, until tragedy strikes, and his self-absorbed, lazy son Bobby (Colin Farrell) assumes command of the company and begins to run it into the ground.

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

Horrible Bosses 2 was released in 2014, and stars Bateman, Day, Sudeikis, Aniston, Foxx, Chris Pine, and Christoph Waltz. In this film, Nick, Dale, and Kurt, tired of working under crappy bosses again, decide to start their own business. However, a father-son pair of con artists pull the rug out from under them, leaving them broke. In order to take their business back, the trio decides to kidnap the investor's son and ransom him back for the money needed to pay off their debts. Hilarity Ensues.

Not to be confused with That One Boss.

The films provide examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    In General 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Julia, at least to Dale. She probably wouldn't be this to other guys (assuming if they're single and/or straight).
  • Anything That Moves: Julia, Kurt, and Harken's wife, Rhonda.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Dale and Kurt have very short attention spans.
  • Bad Boss: Yup. It's right there in the title.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Every once in a while, Dale snaps.
  • Black Comedy:
    • Though the first film is ultimately surprisingly idealisticonly one character is capable of murder and it's one of the titular bosses.
    • This is kept consistent in the second film, where not only do the three protagonists still not kill anyone, they also realize that they're not suited for kidnapping or for crime in general.
  • Butt-Monkey: The three protagonists, Dale especially. Harken outright spells it out to Nick:
    "Let me tell you something, you stupid little runt. I own you. You're my bitch."
  • Comic Trio: Kurt, Nick, and Dale, complete with frequently slapping each other.
  • Depraved Dentist: Julia, on a scale never seen since Steve Martin wore a gas mask in Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Dope Slap: The three protagonists frequently inflict these on each other.
  • Evil Feels Good: Not who you'd think; it's actually Harken in the first film and Rex in the second who start to like killing. The protagonists themselves eventually realize, in both films, that they are not cut out to be criminals.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The three bosses and Burt are choleric (especially Harken), Nick is phlegmatic or perhaps leukine, Dale is melancholic and Kurt is sanguine.
  • Freudian Trio: Kurt is the Id, Dale is the Ego, and Nick is the Superego.
  • The Heart: Dale. Kurt even calls him this, verbatim, at the start of the second movie. Even though he makes numerous dumb mistakes that exasperate Nick and Kurt, we see several examples in both movies that, when the chips are down, he is the one who holds the group together. Most prominently: in the first movie, when Nick and Kurt are on the verge of turning on each other, Dale uses his "Law and Order" knowledge to force the cops to let them all go, and in the second, he bravely but recklessly charges at the bad guy and gets shot, which ultimately causes the the D.A. to drop many of the bigger charges and keeps the guys from getting into irreparable trouble. Kurt once refers to him as "our little Kevin Costner; you're our bodyguard."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The first film implies that the three main characters have been best friends since high school (with their high school friend Kenny calling them The Three Musketeers), and now, in adulthood, they regularly share drinks together and confide in each other, start a business together, clearly know each other quite well, and, despite their frequent bickering, have ultimately stuck together and remained good friends by the end of the second movie.
  • It's All About Me: Bobby's and Rex's attitudes are basically this.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life:
    • Dale got drunk at a bar that happened to be next to a playground, and went outside to publicly urinate. 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.
    • Jones spent 10 years in prison for pirating Snow Falling on Cedars.
  • Karma Houdini: Really, considering all the problems they cause (as both of the character deaths across the two films, especially Pellitt's in the first, were indirectly caused by their actions), the three protagonists get off remarkably easily at the ends of both films, though it's downplayed at the end of the second one where they're in a notably worse place than they started, but at least seem to still be fairly upbeat.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Near the end of the first movie, Harken becomes this, as does Rex near the end of the second.
  • Large Ham: Dale. Also Rex in the sequel.
  • Loveable Sex Maniac: Kurt. Julia is inverted.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Averted with Dale and played straight with Kurt. Dale rejects Julia's advances because he's engaged (and later married) and because it's unethical to sleep with one's employer, whereas Kurt is a horndog who hits on every pretty woman he meets.
  • The Millstone: Dale is more or less to these films what Alan is to The Hangover. Kurt's out-of-control libido and fondness for vulgar jokes doesn't help, either.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Despite acting like a total creep, Jennifer Aniston is still very nice to look at.
  • 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 an unusual example of a straight male character carrying traditionally feminine virtues and flaws being portrayed quite positively high. (Then again, he also has the buried rage common in said common working girls...)
  • Only Sane Man: Nick.
  • Police Brutality Gambit: Harken tried to frame Nick Kevin and Dale for Pellit's murder by shooting himself in the leg and plays the victim as the police arrives. Fortunately, Kurt's car recorded Harken's confession as the killer.
  • The Pornomancer: Kurt.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Julia. According to the second movie, she "collects" cocks (as a metaphor), has "quite an impressive trophy room", and lost her virginity at age eleven. The reason she's so fixated on Dale is that he's the only man she's pursued who's ever resisted her.
    • Kurt is implied to be this. He flirts with numerous hot women in both movies, and we have no reason to believe he's not successful at least a good portion of the time. Heck, in the first movie, he scored with Julia and Rhonda in the same night, and had little trouble charming and winning over Rhonda (a married woman).
  • Red Baron: "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.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Nick is the blue to Kurt's and Dale's red.
    • Kurt is the red to Nick's and Dale's blue.
    • Dale is the red to Nick's blue, but the blue to Kurt's red.
  • Scary Black Man: Motherfucker Jones.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: "I'll be in the car" could double as Nick's catchphrase.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Dale is the Sensitive Guy, Kurt is the Manly Man. Nick is somewhere in between, but leaning more towards Sensitive Guy, especially in the second movie.
  • Sesquipedalian Smith: Motherfucker Jones.
  • The Sociopath: All of the bosses have this to a degree:
    • Harken is ruthless to his employees and insanely controlling toward his own wife. He straight up murders Bobby for suspecting him of cheating.
    • Bobby is a pretty low-functioning example. How else do you call a guy who didn't even bother attending his own father's funeral? On top of being a dangerously hedonistic person who is willing to bankrupt his father's company just to feed his vices.
    • Julia engages in an really unhealthy degree of sexual promiscuity, even needing to rape patients while they're unconscious just for a cheap thrill.
    • Both of the Hansons.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Nick is the Straight Man, Kurt is the Wise Guy, and Dale can be either or both.
  • The Team: Of a Vitriolic Best Buds variety, but since the guys usually do discuss options, make plans, tackle their problems and obstacles, and work together overall, they count as this, though there is no single Leader / Lancer. Instead, all three are The Smart Guy in different ways, and have their own extra roles:
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: In each movie, the murderer (Harken in the first, Rex in the second) kills his victim (Bobby in the first, Burt in the second) with a single shot to the heart... but then proceeds to add a completely unnecessary second shot to the head while standing over the already-dead body, as a final "up yours" to his victim.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Many, many examples. This is very prominent in all three of them, but especially Dale and Kurt. In addition to individual examples listed for each movie, these are examples that appear in both movies:
    • In both films, the murderer tosses his gun to Dale... who catches it, leaving his fingerprints on it.
    • Kurt's tendency to get very Distracted by the Sexy causes many small problems and at least one massive problem in each film.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: A few trailers for both films reveal important plot twists, such as Dale saving the life of Nick's boss, Rex being in on and working with the guys to plan his own kidnapping, and Rex holding onto Detective Hatcher with one hand and pointing a gun with the other. One red band trailer shows that Kurt sleeps with Julia while stalking her to plot her murder.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: All three of the protagonists have this relationship with each other, complete with frequent dope slaps, but it's especially true between Kurt and Dale. The two of them bicker and slap each other the most (with Nick sometimes playing peacekeeper and other times siding with one or the other), but they're also the ones that frequently spazz out together and get carried away with the group's shenanigans, leaving it up to Nick to balance them out and act as the voice of reason.

    Horrible Bosses 
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The three protagonists just lost $5,000 to Motherfucker Jones and are facing prison time for failing to report to the police about Nick witnessing Harken murder Pellitt, and then Dale complains they also wasted $40 on a briefcase to put in all that money for Jones. Nick and Kurt go berserk over Dale mentioning that.
  • Asshole Victim: Bobby Pellitt.
  • Ax-Crazy: Harken, who is a power-tripping Jerkass to begin with, easily makes the transition to psychotic murderer.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Kurt influences Harken to kill 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: Jack Pellitt is this before he dies and his son takes the helm.
  • Berserk Button: Harken's is whenever a random man has sex with his wife Rhonda. According to Harken, Rhonda's having sex with every man in the neighborhood.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The three horrible bosses. By the final act of the movie, however, Harken emerges as the true Big Bad.
  • Blatant Lies: When interrogated by the police why he was going 61 in a 25 mph zone fleeing a murder scene in fear, Nick weasels out "I was drag racing". The detective asks, "In a Prius?"
  • Bowdlerise: At least on 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.
  • The Cameo:
  • 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 straight in a literal fashion: 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.
  • Comically 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.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Bobby, who has no problem illegally dumping harmful chemicals to save money.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Harken.
  • Dead Star Walking: Donald Sutherland as Jack Pellitt. Quite obvious given the film's basic premise.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Why Motherfucker Jones spent ten years in prison. And it was only one movie.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Harken kills Pellett just because he thought him to have slept with his wife (courtesy of Kurt leaving Pellett's cellphone in Harken's house).
  • 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 quite 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 clearly believe that it's fine when it's a hot woman like Jennifer Aniston. Note that Dale's the only one of the three in a relationship, and him having a fiancee and Julia trying to break them up is a large part of the reason why him being sexually harassed is considered to be a serious problem.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Kurt near the film's climax, though very justified, since Harken chases them and repeatedly rams their car with his.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Bobby has seriously messed himself up on cocaine.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Nick and Kurt are furious with Dale for saving Harken after he almost dies from an allergic reaction. However, as Dale points out, he had no idea that it was Harken he was saving, since Nick didn't show him or Kurt what Harken looked like ahead of time.
  • 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 organizing.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For the three main characters. Kurt has Bobby murdered in his house and his company returns to its former glory, Nick has Harken taken to prison for killing Bobby and takes over Harken's job as company president, and Dale humiliates and blackmails Julia into paying for his honeymoon and stopping her sexual harassment of him. Of course, this is all reversed in the second movie.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Double Subverted. Kurt screws it up the first time, but they're saved by Gregory successfully pulling it off instead.
  • Erotic Eating: Julia eats a popsicle, a banana, and a hot dog, ...In That Order. Kurt is dumbfounded.
  • Even Evil Has Standards/Family-Values Villain: 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. This also gets subverted by the second film, as she again demands that Dale "plow" her, despite the fact that he is now already married.
  • 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."
  • Executive Excess: Once Bobby Pellitt takes over the role of running his deceased father's company, not only does he run it into the ground through incredibly bad decisions and firing employees willy-nilly, he spends all of his time locked in his office having orgies or getting stoned.
  • 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."
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Bobby is very into Asian aesthetics, particularly Chinese dragons.
  • Gold Digger: Somewhat implied with Harken's wife, who cheats on him regularly. She probably didn't marry him for his personality...
  • Hate Sink: All three bosses, as the title implies. Harken's a sociopath who treats his workers like slaves, Julia's a rapist and (as the sequel reveals) ephebephile who likes taking advantage of her patients while they're under the effects of laughing gas and Bobby is a sleazy, disgusting hedonist with an overinflated ego.
  • The Hedonist: Bobby Pellitt.
  • Here We Go Again!: Nick's new boss is a psychopath who shoves employees into his car's trunk and drives them around in retaliation for minor slights, and the film quickly implies he's even worse by giving him the label 'Twisted Old Fuck'.
  • Hookers and Blow: Bobby's principal interests.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: While Kenny used to work at Lehman Brothers right after college, now he can't find a restaurant that'll hire him.
    Kenny Sommerfeld: I was making the high six-figures and now I can't even pay for this fucking drink!
  • 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.
  • I Have a Family: Harken begs to the police, "PLEASE PROTECT ME FROM THEM! I have a wife... and a cat!"
  • 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?: How the murderer gets caught.
  • Jerkass: All three of the titular bosses.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Only Julia ends the movie with job and life intact. And still with a cost, as she did get blackmailed in a shining moment for Dale, and due to his false sex offender registration, who else would hire him besides her? Career-wise, she may now have him under her thumb, but now she's stuck with her very own blackmailer.
  • Kick the Dog: Pellitt 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.
  • Lady, He's, Like, In a Coma: Julia's job allows her to drug men unconscious. She takes advantage of this at least twice. Dale takes advantage of this at the end to trick her into nearly raping his (very much awake) friend.
  • 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 prison for it.
  • Manchild / Psychopathic Man Child: Bobby Pellitt.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Harken.
  • 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.
  • 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"
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Why Harken kills Pellitt — the irony being that the victim isn't actually the hypotenuse.
  • Nepotism: Put simply, this is the singular reason why anyone like Bobby would ever be allowed to be a doorman at his company, let alone run it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "Nice job fucking the crazy out of her Kurt!"
  • 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.
  • 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: All three bosses actually, but especially Pellitt.
  • Prison Rape:
    • What Harken has to look forward to for twenty-five years, according to Nick. It's subverted in the sequel, though, when he is shown patting another inmate on the shoulder, implying that he has already established himself as the alpha male in prison.
    • Nick and Kurt argue over who would get raped more if they get sent to prison; when asked, Dale says it would be Nick, as he seems "more vulnerable".
  • Properly Paranoid: For most of the movie, Harken's paranoia about his wife Rhonda's infidelity is portrayed as unreasonable and unfounded. Then Rhonda gives Kurt a blow job in the bathroom at Harken's surprise party near the end of the movie, and suddenly that paranoia makes a whole lot more sense.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Bobby's dad is the only one in the entire movie.
  • Rewatch Bonus: If you missed it the first time, it's blatantly obvious the second time that Motherfucker Jones is up and phoning it in through the entire movie.
  • Riches to Rags: Kenny Sommerfeld, who used to make 6 figures working at Lehman Brothers. Now he's dirt-poor and reduced to begging for loose change at a restaurant he's been banned from.
  • Run for the Border: Nick, Dale, Kurt all attempt to hightail it to Canada right before Harken gives chase.
  • Running Gag: Harken's cat. They open a medicine cabinet and the cat jumps out.
  • Save the Villain: Dale, inadvertently. He gives Harken an epinephrine shot after he suffers an allergic reaction to peanuts. In Dale's defense, he didn't know it was Harken.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: A few including to Strangers on a Train, Snow Falling on Cedars, and Law & Order.
    Dale: Rape! Rape! Rape! That's a rape! This is what raping is! YOU'RE A RAPER! YOU RAPED ME! THAT'S A RAPE! RAPE!!!
    Julia: Oh just relax there, Jodie Foster.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Donald Sutherland.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Pellitt. Good god, Pellitt. 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 Pellitt.
  • Spear Counterpart: The movie is essentially a gender-flipped remake of the 1980 film 9 to 5, in which three employees get revenge on their boss for their constant abuse towards them.
  • 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 it's 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 Pellitt — it's obvious for example that the only reason he has a job in the first place is because his dad was the manager.
  • "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: stuck in a position he hates with no possibility of advancement. This culminates in Harken calling him his "bitch."
    • Dale also threatens this, but no one else would hire him — see Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life.
    • All three of them consider this...until they meet their unemployed former classmate who is so desperate for money he does handjobs for cash.
    • All three apparently ended up doing this offscreen between the first and second films, in favor of starting up their own business and never having to work for anyone else again.
  • 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. Nick is usually the Only Sane Man of the trio, but this was a massive (and near-fatal) oversight on his part.
    • Dale searching the m4m section of Craigslist for an assassin and hiring a male prostitute instead of an actual hitman.
    • Nick failing to tell Dale what Harken looks like, causing him to miss a chance to let Harken die in front of him while he's on lookout duty.
    • Kurt throwing a rock at Harken's glass door. Yes it was a fake rock, but still...
    • Nick speeding away from the scene of Bobby's murder and getting caught on camera while doing it, putting them on the cops' suspect radar.
  • Trouble Entendre: The entire conversation with 'the Wetwork Man'.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Bobby Pellitt, a hedonistic Jerkass who takes over his late father's company and uses it as his personal piggy bank.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Harken's wife is a very beautiful, glamourous, seductive blonde with a massive set of cleavage, as opposed to him being very ugly inside and out.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After Dale saves Harken by injecting him with his epi-pen, instead of thanking him, he continues to act hostile and accuses him of trying to sleep with his wife. She even lampshades this.
  • 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.
      • And indeed it is, apparently, as Harken uses this same phrase in the sequel, leading to Kurt giving Nick an "I told you so!"
  • 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!

    Horrible Bosses 2 
  • Asshole Victim: Burt Hanson.
  • Ax-Crazy: Rex is actually cackling for a solid thirty seconds after killing his father. He actually shows this earlier in the film as well when he beats himself up via fight-clubbing, which Nick lampshades.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: The only murder in the film is when Rex kills Burt. Rex is also the one who insists on going through with his own kidnapping, even when The Trio is hesitant, and he also beats himself up via fight-clubbing.
  • Beard of Evil: Burt and Rex.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Kurt wished that Burt were dead for scamming the three friends out of their money and trademark product. Near the end, they get Burt killed by having joined forces with Rex, who was scheming to kill off his own dad for a long time now to inherit his billions of dollars and was waiting for the perfect opportunity to do so. Kurt is not euphoric about Bert's death.
  • Benevolent Boss: During their brief tenure as business owners, the three protagonists appear to be this. (Maybe a bit too benevolent.)
  • Big Bad Duumvirate/Big Bad Ensemble: The father-and-son team of Burt and Rex Hanson, with Julia returning as a secondary antagonist. In the climax, though, Rex reveals himself as the true Big Bad and pulls an Eviler than Thou by killing Burt.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Though being played for comedy softens it quite a bit, it's actually far more on the "bitter" side. By the end the heroes dodge jail, don't get killed, and are more than content to have escaped these fates, and they're still best friends. Otherwise, though, they're in a worse place than at the beginning of the film, having lost their product and most of their money and having to work for Harken. Both Harken himself and Julia, the other surviving antagonist from the first film are indisputably better off despite not becoming remotely better people (Julia might actually be worse). Motherfucker Jones is the only "sympathetic" character who ends up with what he wants — and even he does so by stealing from Dale, Kurt and Nick.
  • Black Comedy Rape: During the film's final scene, Julia claims to have satisfied herself regarding Dale (who has just awoken from a coma). When Dale asks her to elaborate, she responds that men can still have erections, even in a coma.
  • Book Ends:
    • Near the beginning, Rex tells the guys, "Mr. Hanson is my dad. Call me Rex." At the very end, Motherfucker Jones tells the Pinkberry rep: "Mr. Jones is my daddy. Call me Mothahfuckah!"
    • When the guys are talking at the beginning, Kurt mishears Nick saying "cogs" as "cocks". Near the climax, he mishears Julia saying "cocks" as "cogs".
  • Brutal Honesty: After Rex shoots Dale in the film's climax, Nick is trying to comfort Dale and reassure him that he'll be okay...only to have both Kurt and Detective Hatcher chiming in from the background with "Oh, no, no, that's a lot of blood" and "Jesus Christ, that's a big fucking hole". Kurt lampshades it:
    Kurt: You want hope, talk to him (Nick). You want the truth, I'm your guy.
    Dale: Hey, fuck you, man. ... Please don't let me die with this guy talking to me.
  • Call-Back:
  • Chain-Link Fence: When the protagonists and Motherfucker Jones are leading the police to the warehouse, they are trapped in a parking lot by one of these. Jones tries to solve the problem by running the car straight through it, but it doesn't work as expected, as the car drags the door and a big section of the fence along for the rest of the drive, like a mobile cage.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted with the claw/fang from Predator that Rex gave to Dale.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jones is this near the climax when he shows up in the parking garage and helps the three leads escape from the cops. Rex is another literal example when he shows up near the film's climax and shoots Burt.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Rex does this to most of the other major characters throughout film:
    • He turns against his father Burt by first joining in on the scheme to extort Burt's money, and later by killing him (although, to be fair, Burt did kind of have it coming to him).
    • He also does this to the protagonists when he tries to frame them for killing his father and when he actually shoots Dale. Made even more prominent by the fact that he fully planned to betray them from the get-go, even before he'd decided to kill Burt.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Stacy, Dale's wife, shows signs of this, as she half-hysterically accuses him of cheating on her after he fails to come home one night, and uses her phone to track his on two different occasions, the second of which leads to a massive Oh, Crap! moment. This may also count as a Retcon, since Stacy showed no hints of this in the original film. Dale even told Julia that Stacy wouldn't believe her if the former told the latter that he was cheating. Maybe having kids brought on the change?
  • The Collector: Julia, apparently, collects "cocks", a metaphor for simply any man she sleeps with. She reveals in this film that the major reason she pursues Dale so relentlessly is that he is the only man to continually (and successfully) resist her.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Burt and Rex, who remorselessly double-cross the protagonists and cheat them out of their business.
  • Cure Your Gays/Intimate Psychotherapy: Julia apparently tries to do this on any gay guys who show up to her sex addiction group meetings. Her latest target is "Glanston" (Nick), who is happy to play along if it means getting laid.
  • Disney Death: Dale at the end.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: This again happens with Kurt, who accidentally leaves Burt his own phone instead of the untraceable one after seeing a pair of hot girls jog by. He also is very distracted by Rex's hot secretary, and he hires numerous hot, unqualified women for their new business despite Nick's and Dale's hesitation, only to be dismayed when they tell him that he can neither sleep with them nor fire them for not being able to sleep with them, as both scenarios would be sexual harassment.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Motherfucker Jones when he and the trio are fleeing the police.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Near the beginning, a mere minute after calmly informing the protagonists of his plans to cheat them out of their business, Burt expresses disapproval when Rex rubs their faces in it.
    • After the Mistaken for Cheating scene, Julia is genuinely apologetic for ruining Dale's marriage, and later explains to Stacy what happened while Dale is in a coma.
  • Evil Laugh / Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Rex shows several instances of this, most notably drawn-out cackling after killing his own father.
  • Expy: Rex is one of Bobby from the first movie, and his father Burt is one of Harken. Though ironically, they're a reversal from said expies in terms of who kills whom.
  • Faked Kidnapping: The main plot.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Both Rex and Burt act friendly to the main trio in a smug, insincere tone.
  • Flanderization: While Dale and especially Kurt were already not very smart in the first installment, their stupidity is taken up to eleven in this one. Check the Too Dumb to Live section for this movie. On the other hand, Nick was the smartest one in the first part, although he made some stupid mistakes. In the second part, he's probably the Only Sane Man from the trio.
  • For the Evulz: Bert seems to get a sadistic satisfaction out of screwing people over, and his son is no different.
  • Freudian Excuse: Rex likely became a backstabbing Jerkass because of his greedy, neglectful father and the lack of a meaningful relationship with him.
  • Funny Foreigner: For some reason, the fact that the trio's sole Spanish-speaking worker...speaks Spanish is Played for Laughs.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Many businesspeople are dishonest, so be prepared in case they try and steal your ideas or IPs.
  • Here We Go Again!: At the end, all three of the main characters working for Harken again, even though he's still in prison.
  • Hired for Their Looks: Several of the new girls Kurt hires are clueless, gorgeous bimbos, having absolutely no qualifications for the job.
  • Honor Before Reason: When Kurt and Dale don't answer over the walkie-talkie after breaking into Julia's office and are in danger of being caught, Nick debates leaving them to their fate, since he himself technically hasn't done anything wrong, but decides he can't do it. Ultimately subverted, though, by his reason for doing so: "They'll just tell on me."
  • Horrible Judge of Character: All three of them, but especially Kurt and Dale, when it comes to Rex.
  • Hypocrite: In his Strawman Political scene, Burt criticizes "people who want handouts from those who make an honest living", implying that he himself makes an honest living when his success was actually the result of brazenly screwing people like Nick, Kurt, and Dale over all the time.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After Burt cons Nick, Kurt, and Dale out of their business and they go to Harken for advice, he admonishes them for "ruining the livelihoods of their employees". Coming from a guy who murdered someone and tried to kill/frame the trio for it, this is just priceless.
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: The protagonists and Rex imagine succeeding with their kidnapping-and-ransom scheme, picturing themselves sunbathing by a pool and surrounded by money, hot girls, and Dale's wife and kids.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Kurt and Dale plan to get into Rex's house by simply walking through the front door, which turns out to be locked, leading to this exchange:
    Kurt and Dale: Aw, locked./Oh, fuck.
    Nick: (incredulous) Your plan didn't account for the door being locked?
    Kurt: Well, hey, it was a fifty-fifty shot.
    Nick: How d'you figure that?
    Dale: ...Either it's locked, or it's unlocked. What's up with you tonight, man, are you okay?
  • Jerkass: Burt and Rex Hanson.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When the guys visit Harken in jail, he mocks the fact that they started manufacturing without receiving ANY money, signed agreement, or other reassurances beyond a verbal agreement with Burt, and just "assumed [they] were dealing with an honest businessman." Harken bluntly calls them morons, and Nick even admits that this is fair.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Rex Hanson first comes across as an asshole, but later in the film appears to have changed his mind about the protagonists and genuinely befriended them. He's also sincerely upset when Burt calls the police anyway after the "kidnappers" told him not to, as this causes him to realize that Burt doesn't actually care about him, and it also makes the trio more sympathetic to him. However, he later betrays the protagonists and reveals that he planned to do so from the beginning of their partnership, and kills his father with absolutely no remorse.
  • Karma Houdini: Motherfucker Jones gets away with stealing the ransom money from the heroes, and is shown investing it in Pinkberry at the end of the film. To a much darker degree, Julia, who rapes Dale when he is in a coma and is either going to seduce Stacy or has already done so.
  • Kick the Dog: Burt and Rex both get several.
  • Lack of Empathy: Burt and Rex.
  • Lady, He's, Like, In a Coma: Julia implies that she did this to Dale when he was in a coma for a few days after being shot.
  • Laughing Mad: Rex does this twice. The first time, it's after he pretends to be kidnapped and locked in the trunk of Kurt's car; he laughs for almost a full minute, with the protagonists uncertainly and awkwardly joining in (followed by a lampshading of "WHAT'S HAPPENING?!" from Dale). The second time, he's just shot his father dead, and goes on laughing for a solid thirty seconds while Dale, Kurt, and Nick just stare at him in horror.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Dale, both played straight and subverted. When it looks like the killer, Rex, is going to escape successfully, Dale is furious at the thought that this guy basically destroyed his and his friends' lives and is gonna get away with he takes the pointy movie prop that Rex himself gave him earlier and charges straight at Rex with it. It's subverted because he promptly gets shot for his trouble before he manages to get anywhere near Rex, and doesn't get to kick any ass or directly take down the bad guy himself...however, it's still played straight in different way, since this distracts Rex enough for Hatcher to subdue him, so Dale does save the day indirectly, and this Taking the Bullet act is also what keeps the trio from getting into serious trouble with the police. Not to mention, it sure looked pretty badass, especially since Dale was really the only one who was doing anything about the situation.
  • Manchild / Psychopathic Man Child: Rex again.
    "We've got a crier."
    • Kurt and Dale are Flanderized into this, as proven in the scene where they almost get caught because they're too busy coming up with code names for themselves.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Burt and Rex, again.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Dale is discovered by his wife and daughters in a hotel room about to have (forced and extremely reluctant) sex with Julia in the ultimate Oh, Crap! moment in the series.
  • Mistaken for Gay: When Nick gets dragged into Julia's sex addiction group, he mistakenly believes it to be an AA meeting, and his hilarious, improvised description of his "problem" justifiably leads the other members of the group to think he's gay. He initially denies it, but pretty quickly goes along with and even confesses to it upon finding out that Julia frequently attempts to bang gay guys who come to these meetings in the hopes of "de-gaying" them. Even Kurt and Dale, who overhear this, aren't entirely sure if he's serious or not, and Nick has to insist to Kurt later that no, he is not gay, nor is he bi.
  • Moment Killer: Dale has one:
    Are we talking about Predator or are we talking about him? (Beat) Sorry, I'm terrible with metaphors.
  • N-Word Privileges: Did they seriously not realize that putting all of their names together would result in that gaffe in front of the black news anchor?
  • Off the Table: When Rex makes an offer to buy the protagonists' invention and have it manufactured in China, they refuse because they want their product to be made in America and still be in charge. They change their minds when Rex says he intended to pay three million dollars, but Rex says it's too late.
  • Oh, Crap!: The guys get a massive one as Stacy shows up right when Dale is about to be forced into sex with Julia, leading to a Mistaken for Cheating moment and culminating in Stacy angrily storming off. This enrages Dale, who then pretends to agree to have sex with Julia, only to then lock her in the bathroom so he, Nick, and Kurt can leave.
  • The One That Got Away: Julia explains that Dale is this to her, and that she pursues him so aggressively because he's the only guy to ever turn down sex with her.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Double subverted by Motherfucker Jones. He anticipates that the bad guy will betray and kill the three protagonists (only the former of which does actually happen), so he plans to steal the ransom money from the criminal for himself once the criminal has murdered them, stating that he figures that the guys would rather he get the money than the bad guy. (For their part, Dale, Kurt, and Nick are all furious about this, but don't have time to dwell on it for too long.) This becomes subverted when, after the bad guy leaves and the heroes are about to be cornered by the police, Jones helps them escape and tries to get them back to the warehouse in time to prove their innocence. Becomes double subverted, however, when, after he succeeds in doing this, he does still steal the ransom money and successfully flee the scene.
  • Parental Neglect: It is heavily implied, and later basically confirmed, that Burt values his money over his son's life. This is what ultimately leads Rex to diverge from his original secret agenda of simply stealing from his father and leaving the three protagonists to take the fall, instead deciding to kill Burt in revenge to take over his company and frame the trio for that instead.
  • Patricide: Angry that his dad called the police even after being told that Rex's life would be in danger if he did so, and figuring that Burt wanted his so-called kidnappers to kill him off, Rex decides to literally backstab (or shoot) him with a Colt Python and inherit all of his dad's company and billions of dollars.
  • Power Walk: Parodied and discussed. The trio attempts a "super cool slow-mo walk", but they suck.
  • Race Against the Clock: Jones tries to help the trio get back to the warehouse with the police before the bad guy does in order to prove their innocence.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Harken gives all three of them an especially hilarious one both times they visit him in prison.
  • Running Gag:
    • Kurt repeatedly refers to Dale's infant children as Dale's little "boys" or "sons". Dale and Stacy have triplet daughters together.
    • Kurt mishearing "cocks" vs "cogs". The first two times, he hears someone saying "cogs" and thinks they're saying "cocks". The third time, it happens the other way around.
  • Same-Sex Triplets: Dale's daughters.
  • Save the Villain: Dale does another inadvertent one in a "Save the Antagonistic Police Who Tried to Arrest Us" version. See Let's Get Dangerous! and Taking the Bullet.
  • Scooby Stack: After waking up in Rex's house, Nick and Dale start the stack, but Kurt interrupts to talk about the daytime view.
  • Sex Equals Love: There are hints throughout the movie that this happens to Nick after he has sex with Julia (or that he at least develops some kind of feelings for her), despite his denial. Kurt and Dale tease him about this.
  • Sexual Extortion: Julia threatens to turn all three of them in to the police for breaking into her office unless they all have sex with her.
  • Smug Snake: The Hansons.
  • Spoiled Brat: Rex Hanson — he mentions that he and his dad haven't been getting along lately because Burt's been "refusing to cover some of [his] expenses, yada yada yada". He later kills his dad near the climax of the film so he can inherit the company.
  • Stockholm Syndrome/Lima Syndrome: Discussed and lampshaded. Depending on your perspective, as Rex, in a way, metaphorically kidnapped the three protagonists via blackmail/extortion when he forced them to "kidnap" him. Either way, the guys do start to sympathize with Rex and take a liking to him. It doesn't work out well for them.
  • Strawman Political: Burt, due to his cutthroat attitude towards business and disdain for people wanting "handouts".
  • Taking the Bullet: Dale inadvertently does this for Detective Hatcher in the movie's climax. When Rex takes Hatcher hostage, Dale furiously charges Rex and ends up getting shot. He was doing it less for Hatcher's sake, though, and more because he was furious that Rex had destroyed his life and was about to get away with everything he'd done. It ends up working out for him, though; he survives after being in a coma for four days, and this is the major reason that he and his friends don't get into much worse trouble than they do. Kurt lampshades this:
    You're like our little Kevin Costner. You're our bodyguard.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Motherfucker Jones brilliantly delivers one to the guys when they come to him for more criminal advice after trying to make themselves look like victims. He flat-out tells them that they are not regular guys who fell on hard times, they are actual criminals who landed one of their previous bosses in jail and got another killed, and are now trying to kidnap their latest boss's son and extort money from him. Also doubles as Truth in Television, as white criminals are very often given the benefit of the doubt and/or are viewed as flawed people at best even when they commit heinous crimes, while many people of color committing far more minor offenses are given much less mercy and long jail sentences (including Jones himself, who got ten years in prison for pirating ONE movie).
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "Look who's the Predator now, bitch." Also, a subtle Call-Back to Dale being unfairly labeled a sex offender.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Nick actually averts this for the most part in this film, other than the dumb stuff that the trio does collectively. Sadly, Dale and Kurt make up for it by playing this trope extremely straight:
    • The fact that the guys started manufacturing without receiving any money or signed agreement (or anything other than a non-recorded verbal agreement) from Burt was unbelievably dumb, as Harken points out. Nick and Kurt especially should have known better, since Nick previously worked for a financial firm and Kurt was a former accountant, but really, you'd think all three would have done a lot more research and been better prepared if they really wanted to start their own business.
    • Kurt and Dale planning to get into Rex's house by hoping the door was unlocked... with no backup plan. (See Insane Troll Logic above.)
    • Basically everything that the three do while at Rex's house (Kurt outright ringing the doorbell, them getting the credit card stuck on the other side of the door, them releasing the happy gas they're supposed to use on Rex on themselves instead while hiding in the closet, Dale openly shouting "HEY REX!!!" when they wake up the next morning).
    • Dale blurts out the word "kidnapping" in front of the cops in a major I Never Said It Was Poison slip-up. Only a huge Idiot Ball moment from the cops saved them from that.
    • Dale reminding Rex that he's still wearing pants stained with his father's blood.
    • Kurt seems to have learned his lesson and remembers to record the bad guy's confession, but doesn't think to keep his mouth shut about it even when being held at gunpoint, prompting said bad guy to just force him to hand the recorder over, then smash it.
    • Just the fact that, eventually, all three guys allowed themselves to trust Rex even after seeing his skewed humor and insanely good acting skills was pretty dumb.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After spending most of the series as The Millstone of of the trio, Dale does this, as the bad guy is about to get away while Kurt, Nick, and the entire large group of cops are just helplessly watching, by attempting to straight-up attack Rex, even though Rex has a gun. Granted, he does still get shot for doing so, but that still took some major balls, and it's what ultimately allowed Hatcher to save the day — and saved the three friends from jail time.
    You're like our little Kevin Costner. You're our bodyguard.
  • Train Escape: Subverted. Jones pulls this off while he and the protagonists are fleeing from the police; however, since they want the police to follow them, Jones promptly stops the car on the other side of the tracks and waits for the train to pass by so they can catch up.
  • Troll: Kurt does this repeatedly to Dale after the latter gets shot. While Nick is trying to make Dale feel better with the usual "You're gonna be okay" sequence, Kurt keeps putting in stuff like, "Oh, no, that's a lot of blood" right in front of Dale. He does it even more in the hospital after Dale wakes up: he imitates the "flatline beep" sound, tells Dale he's not gonna make it when he actually is, jokes that they had to give him Burt's heart to save him, and tells him he's been unconscious for two years when he was really just out for four days.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: There are subtle hints that this is how Rex feels about Burt... which makes it all the more sad when Burt shows that he cares more about his money than his son, as he calls the cops even after he was told not to. See Parental Neglect above.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: It's the Eleventh Hour. The bad guy has a gun, has taken a hostage, and is about to escape, and it seems that everyone else is helpless to stop him. Dale, in a rush of anger-fueled adrenaline, grabs a makeshift weapon and charges at the bad guy like a superhero having a Big Damn Heroes moment. Except, he's a fair distance away from Rex and is yelling as he charges, so Rex sees him, smirks at him like "Really?", and promptly shoots him before Dale gets anywhere near him. Nick and Dale both lampshade this afterwards.

Alternative Title(s): Horrible Bosses 2