A lot of people in this world really don’t like their bosses. That’s a shame, but it’s also a fact of life. A decent person wouldn’t ever contemplate killing though, would they? ‘Horrible Bosses’ finds three best friends in this very dilemma.

Nick (Jason Bateman) works at a financial firm for a fellow named Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey). Mr. Harken is a controlling, evil and manipulative man. Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) is an accountant working for a kind older man named Jack (Donald Sutherland). Unfortunately, Jack dies and leaves his cocaine-fueled son, Bobby (Colin Farrell) in charge. Dale (Charlie Day) is a dental assistant. His boss, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston) is sexually harassing and blackmailing him. If Dale doesn’t have sex with Julia, she will tell his fiancee that they did have sex (which they didn’t).

All three men are friends and hate their bosses. Kurt thinks out loud that all of them would be happier if their bosses were dead. Eventually, the men agree that would make their lives better. How to go about this?

At a bar, they meet Dean Jones (Jamie Foxx) an ex-convict with an unrepeatable nickname. For a price, he will help them.

Will the three men actually go through with it? Even if they do, can they get away with it?

The movie is peppered with some very funny banter between the three friends. Things get gleefully crude at times. It also makes plenty of observations the viewers may be thinking, themselves. For example, Dale’s dilemma is certainly sticky, but since we don’t get to know his fiancee at all, it isn’t always easy to understand the unbreakable bond that they share. A lesser man would surely give in to the temptation. The story is also very aware of the similarities between it and ‘Strangers On A Train.’ It even acknowledges this and ‘Throw Mamma From The Train.’

Speaking of that movie, at one point, things actually do take a bit of a dark turn which seems to come from out of nowhere. The shift in tone is a surprise, even though the story ably explains how this would happen. Of course, the plot might lead you to believe that it’s dark throughout but it really isn’t until one particular incident.

Unfortunately, this is one of those movies that feels it’s necessary to start off with a lot of voice overs. This lazy narrative device is a case of telling when it should be showing. Thankfully, this mostly goes away after the initial sequence. That’s just a pet peeve of this examiner.

For as brief as comedies usually should be, this story seems even shorter than it really is. That can be a compliment, but sometimes it leaves you wanting more to happen in the plot. The climax sneaks up on you quite quickly and the resolution is abrupt. Maybe it’s too abrupt.

While some of the script is a little weak at times, the three main leads are all fine. It would be nice if we got to know more than one or two details about each of them. Spacey gives a lively (perhaps too much) performance while Foxx has some of the film’s funniest lines. Keep an ear open for how he got his nickname. Most shocking of all is that Aniston has found a really great role here. She may be the crudest character of them all and certainly seems to be having fun. After countless lackluster films and mindless romantic comedies, this is refreshing.

Special features include: deleted scenes.

On a basic level, ‘Horrible Bosses’ achieves the goal of a comedy, getting laughs. Upon further inspection, this is a movie that is filled with a lot of little accomplishments that make it seem better than it should be. The story is clumsy, haphazard and seems lazily cobbled together. For most, that shouldn’t matter much as you’ll be chuckling throughout.

Good, not great.

Rated R          98 minutes           2011

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When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!

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