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Is 'Horrible Bosses' going to be 'Office Space' redux?

January 11, 2010 |  6:50 pm

Offices Anyone dreaming of doing unspeakable things to their bosses (note to L.A. Times higher-ups: We never would) may be intrigued by a long-gestating movie called "Horrible Bosses."

The well-liked script from a writer named Mike Markowitz made the prestigious Hollywood-insider  Black List a number of years back. It’s a dark comedy about a trio that teams to murder the titular overlords after being railroaded by them one too many times. Think "Office Space" with murder instead of theft. (Or maybe it's more like ..."9 to 5?")

Perhaps thanks to bureaucracy issues of its own, the project has been tied up for about five years at New Line. It's had several directors associated with it over the years, among them Frank Oz (an expert in cartoonishness, or at least Muppets, of a different kind). But it never could quite gain enough traction.

Now the studio appears to be making another push. It's in advanced negotiations to hire the up-and-coming film maker Seth Gordon to direct it.  Gordon last directed "Four Christmases," but don't hold that against him (or, better, blame a couple of bosses). The wunderkind more admirably directed "The King of Kong," a criminally underrated documentary from 2007 about a group of colorful characters who seek to break records on vintage Donkey Kong arcade games. (If you haven’t seen the film, it’s pretty much one of the best studies of fandom and obsessiveness out there.)

Perhaps even better, the kid who played the likable lead in "Freaks & Geeks," a guy named John Francis Daley, is involved in a rewrite of “Bosses,” along with the veteran writer-producer Jonathan Goldstein.

Workplace comedies these days seem to go in one of two directions -- darker ("Up in the Air") or more feeble ("Extract"). If the project does move ahead at New Line, it would mark a return of sorts for the company to some of its dead-on male comedies  (especially "Wedding Crashers") after a pretty hard turn to more female-oriented laughfests ("He's Just Not That Into You," "Sex and the City"). But more important for the office-comedy genre, it could mark a return to the "Office Space" magic, which would be ... just terrific.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: "Office Space." Credit: 20th Century Fox