Movie Preview: Horrible Bosses

This guest post by Melissa McEwan also appears at her blog Shakesville

[Trigger warning for rape “humor,” fat hatred, sexual assault, violence.]

Deeky texted me last night after he saw a new TV spot for the previously discussed upcoming film Horrible Bosses, in which murder and sexual assault are central “comedic” themes. This spot ran during a primetime re-run of NCIS.

Tool Boss” Colin Farrell tells “Disrespected Employee” Jason Sudeikis, “We’ve got to trim some of the fat around here.” Sudeikis says, “What?!” to which Farrell replies, “I want you to fire the fat people.”

Maneater Boss” Jennifer Aniston, who is a dentist, suggests to “Harassed Employee” Charlie Day that they have sex on top of an unconscious female patient. “Let’s use her like a bed,” she says, to which Day exclaims in response, “That’s crossing the line!”

Psycho Boss” Kevin Spacey tells “Abused Employee” Jason Bateman, “I own you, you little runt,” to which Bateman sheepishly replies, “Thank you.”

At a bar, with “murder consultant” Jaime Foxx, one of them says, “I guess we’re just gonna be miserable for the rest of our lives,” and Foxx offers, “Why don’t you kill each other’s bosses?” Sudeikis says, “That’s actually a good idea.”

Montage of someone flying out the window of a highrise building; the three men in a car spinning out of control; police cars with sirens blaring.

Cut to Sudeikis and Bateman walking down the street together, evidently discussing the murder plan. “I can’t go to jail,” Sudeikis says. “Look at me, I’ll get raped like crazy.”

“I’d get raped just as much as you would, Kurt,” says Bateman, in a sort of hurt voice because rape is totes a compliment.

“No, no—I know you would,” Sudeikis reassures him.


And, no, the fact that it is a prison rape joke between men does not make it funny. There is nothing funny about prison rape.

Call Time Warner and let them know that you don’t think rape jokes, especially rape jokes that suggest rape is a fucking compliment, are funny.

If you’re on Twitter, you can tweet directly at Warner Brothers Pictures: @WBPictures.

Melissa McEwan is the founder and manager of the award-winning political and cultural group blog Shakesville, which she launched as Shakespeare’s Sister in October 2004 because George Bush was pissing her off. In addition to running Shakesville, she also contributes to The Guardian‘s Comment is Free America and AlterNet. Melissa graduated from Loyola University Chicago with degrees in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology, with an emphasis on the political marginalization of gender-based groups. An active feminist and LGBTQI advocate, she has worked as a concept development and brand consultant and now writes full-time.

  • Amy

    It seems to me like the point of the movie is that the bosses are horrible, and the employees are just as horrible…so everyone is horrible. Not that I’m sanctioning a rape joke or anything like that, but it seems like the point is that these guys are so horrible that they are actually hurt that they wouldn’t be raped as much, aka “it’s always sunny in philadelphia” type humor.

  • Max

    (comment below contains discussion on rape jokes and violence)

    Well I’m not going to even touch that Melissa McEwan/Shakesville comment but I disagree with both anonymous and Amy over the point that all the characters in the movie are horrible and it’s funny. I just don’t think that it’s true… these three (Bateman, Day and Sudeikis) are supposed to be the protagonists, depicted as “normal, everyday guys with problems any man could relate to.” Many people have had to deal with a bad boss, right? Maybe they’ve fantasized about quitting that job or even harming their boss in some fashion. Movies are fantasy/can serve as fantasy, so here you go, a movie about three regular dudes killing off their crappy bosses because you can’t.

    But then again, there is a whole genre of movies- mainly comedy but some drama as well- where the hero of the story is as much of an asshole, if not more so, than the supporting characters/characters that we are supposed to hate. Some of Ben Stiller’s roles, for example, are played/written this way. I suppose “Horrible Bosses” could be an example of this and the fact that these three plot to murder their bosses does seem to put them in the “main character is horrible too” category. I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t say for sure, but I just don’t think that we are supposed to see them that way. Yeah, as an audience member, we might shake our heads at them and mumble “what a jerk,” but we’re rooting for them. At least, that’s the way the movie is being advertised.

    (comment to be continued…)

  • Max

    I guess I’m torn then. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to see Bateman’s, Sudeikis’ and Day’s characters as equally horrible or not. Maybe we’re supposed to see them as pretty horrible in their own right, but slightly less so than their bosses. Because we’re supposed to be simultaneously offended and amused over the behavior of these “horrible bosses.” We’re supposed to laugh because it’s outrageous! and edgy! and hey, we all hate these three bosses, right? So, the three disgruntled employees aren’t as bad, right? We root for them, right? Who wants to vote on which of the three actually ends up dating Aniston’s character and finds her “maneater” behavior to be a turn on? I’ve got three to one on Sudeikis.

    Amy; “it seems like the point is that these guys are so horrible that they are actually hurt that they wouldn’t be raped as much.” Yes, I think you are right about this. They are arguing over who is more likely to be raped, and their feelings are hurt over the idea that one of them would be raped less/more than the other for whatever reason. And then they use “rape” as a compliment for the way they look. (I wonder if there is any underlying homophobia/fear of a straight dude just up and telling another straight dude he looks nice in that quote.) Except that… this scene is supposed to be funny. That is what is shocking to me. It doesn’t really matter if we, the audience, see the three protagonists as jerks or not. We are still supposed to laugh at these “jokes.” And I’ve seen several other trailers for this movie at this point and each one had a different quote about rape in it. And Aniston’s character sexually harassing people is supposed to be funny because a woman could never do that in real life. And murder is supposed to be an acceptable solution as opposed to, say, quitting and filing law suits. It seems that every single new clip from this film is more hurtful than the last.

    Maybe the idea that all six characters are (equally) awful is true, but I see it as more of a footnote. I think that the point of the movie is that it’s a revenge fantasy, pure and simple. With lots of rape jokes. Sigh. Everything about this movie really is horrible.

    Anyway, I went off on a rant of my own and ended up not really typing about the other comments and more so about why this movie is so problematic and upsets me a lot but I’m glad I had a space to share it in. Thanks bitch flicks.

  • I am absolutely dumb-founded at some of these comments on here refering to the…100% optional movie, “horrible Bosses!….wait, actually they sound more like a bunch of super excessive and bias whimpers vs comments!! And not to mention a little unnecessary…no?? It is a MOVIE!!! A hilarious movie who happens to star atleast 10 high profile actors!! I could disect every movie ever made and fabricate due to extreme boredom but what for?? If you were so offended by the trailers then why watch it?? Do you think the guys rapeing eachother in prison are worried about your feelings?? lol Or business owners who treat their employees like pets and threaten your future really need your sympothy?? As much as you find this movie offensive, I find judemental and negative people who just search for things to criticize and twist into their own wierd little conclusions pretty damn offensive as well!!! My advice……DON’T RENT MOVIES THAT YOU KNOW YOUR GONNA HATE AHEAD OF TIME!! Prbolem solved 😉

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