Horrible Bosses

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Bad Boss, The Movie

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 eliminated.

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, Pellitt. Pellitt just had a 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.

Tropes used in Horrible Bosses include:
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Julia, at least to Dale. She probably wouldn't be this to many other guys (assuming they're single).
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Julia while she's on the phone with Dale.
  • Actor Allusion: Someone mentions Strangers on a Train, and Dale "recalls" that Danny Devito was in it. To drive the joke home, the argument that ensues strongly resembles the sort of pointless banter that would appear on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • 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.
  • Anything That Moves: Julia and Kurt.
  • Asshole Victim: Pellitt.
  • Awesome McCoolname: "Motherfucker" Jones. He got his name when his mother was passed out drunk and naked, and he stole the money out of her purse. 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.

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.

Dale: Good job fucking the crazy out of her, man.

  • Is This Thing Still On?
  • It's All About Me: Bobby's attitude is basically this.
  • Jerkass: All three of the titular bosses.
  • Karma Houdini: Only Julia ends the movie with job and life intact. To be fair, she did get blackmailed in a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Dale, and due to his sex offender registration, who else would hire him besides her?
    • To be fair, while her treatment of Dale was inexcusable, she wasn't a Complete Monster like Harken and Pellett.
  • Kavorka Man: Kurt.
  • Lack of Empathy/No Sympathy: The titular bosses.
  • Large Ham: Dale.
  • 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.
  • Major Misdemeanor: 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.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Harken.
  • 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 Pregnant: "Large Marge"
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Why Harken kills Pellitt -- the irony being that the victim isn't actually the hypotenuse.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: The guys make a genuine attempt to call the GPS guy by his real name (Atmanand) but give up and switch back to Gregory.
  • Name's the Same: Motherfucker Jones' full name is Dean Jones. He points out that he couldn't be in the bar "with that Disney-ass name".
  • Nice Guy: Dale is what happens when you take the standard sweet, innocent working girl who gets sexually harassed in movies like Nine to Five, 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. This only makes how Bobby turned out more of a mystery.
  • Only Sane Man: Nick.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Ioan Grufford as a male prostitute Dale mistakes for a hitman.
    • Colin Farrell has only two speaking scenes as Pellitt, but he utterly owns both of them.
  • 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.
  • Playing Against Type: Two of the three titular bosses.
  • 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.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Bobby, again.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Bobby's dad is the ONLY one in the entire movie.
  • Sesquipedalian Smith: Motherfucker Jones.
  • Sexual Extortion: Julia does this to Dale as part of a concerted campaign of sexual harassment.
  • 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".
  • Smug Snake: Harken and Pellett.
  • The Sociopath: Arguably, Harken.
  • 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 spirtual 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 a employee wanting to get revenge on their boss though Guy actually almost goes through with killing his boss.
  • Strangers on a Train Plot Murder: Name-checked.
  • 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 and Order to know that the cops can't hold him if they can't charge him with anything.
  • Throw It In: Both Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx came up with their character's look -- pot-bellied with a combover, and retro clothes with a skull tattoo, respectively.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Nick and Dale confronting Harken, who they know to be a sociopathic murderer, completely unarmed.
    • The general incompentence of the trio is a large part of the humor. As the movie goes on it becomes obvious they couldn't kill an ant without getting themselves injured or screwed over in some way, let alone commit a triple homicide.
  • 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 Jerkass who takes over his late father's company and uses it as his personal piggy bank.
  • Wet Sari Scene: Julia inflicts this on Dale, although she seems to have a better view than the audience.
  • 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.