By Christine Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - In Hollywood's new film comedy "Horrible Bosses," an ex-Lehman Brothers executive who is jobless and desperate for money offers sexual favors to some old buddies in return for cash.
While that may seem odd or out-of-place for a Wall Streeter in a Hollywood movie (Gordon Gekko would never stoop so low), the director of "Hollywood Bosses" sees many more such jokes and plots in films, given the currently weak economy.
Director Seth Gordon said his movie, about three old friends who feel stuck in their jobs so they plot to kill their mean bosses, reflected real people's struggles to change jobs.
"You are going to see a bunch of movies that are themed in this way about people that are stuck in some way and want to restart and possibly can't. I think that premise is something that is really relatable right now," Gordon said.
"Horrible Bosses," stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as three average Americans being bullied by their bosses -- one played by Jennifer Aniston in her raunchiest role yet as an oversexed dentist -- who want to move up the ladder but can't. Its big-name supporting cast includes Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell.
DEAD-END JOB? OR JUST DEAD BOSS
Gordon said the scene where the friends encounter their old acquaintance from Lehman Brothers, who was still out of work, played on people's worries about what might happen if they lost or quit their jobs.
"We needed to put a fine point on the fact that these guys didn't have other options," said Gordon, adding that without plotting to go as far as kill their bosses, many real Americans could relate to feeling stuck in their current job.
"One thing has led to another, they (the main characters) are in their thirties, they have taken a job or a series of jobs and they have ended up in a place that in the current economy is relatively fragile," said the director, whose career has included directing episodes of TV series, "The Office," as well as the documentary movie, "Freakonomics."
"It's not like you can move easily from company to company anymore," he added, noting that his film is set against a backdrop of how the "American Dream" is no longer as attainable as it once was.
A few years ago dramatic films including "Up in the Air" about people being fired and serious documentaries such as "Inside Job" followed the initial global economic slump in 2008, but there have been far fewer comedies so it's difficult to forecast how "Horrible Bosses" will play for audiences.
Early reviews have noted that "Horrible Bosses" is hardly risky in its content, with website Indiewire noting it is "the lightest and fluffiest of stuff" and "an intermittently funny, instantly forgettable romp."
Apart from a wacky turn by Farrell playing a sleazy, cocaine addicted womanizer, Aniston is likely to capture the most attention as a sexually aggressive dentist who hits on her subordinate, played by Day, because it plays against her all-American, good girl image.
"I thought it would be fun for me to step out of that, what people usually like to see me play," Aniston told reporters. "I don't think I really care if there would be a bad reaction to it, I actually didn't think there would be, I thought it would be fun for everybody."
(editing by Bob Tourtellotte)