Then I got the three guys on the phone, all of whom spoke to me on a recent Saturday from the same hotel suite during their New York press tour. Let’s just say things started to go awry.
As I put it in a Style story I wrote abut the film, it played out like pretty much every conference call in the history of offices: “At least one person can’t hear, the intended tone behind some comments fails to convey and nothing of consequence gets accomplished.”
Our conversation about the film — in which they play a trio of beleaguered employees who decide to bump off their respective horrendous supervisors (played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell) — began like this.
Chaney: Did any of your characters have workplaces with human resources departments? Because it seems like they would have been a good place to consult.
Bateman: That would come from three bright characters. These guys are not that smart and so, um —
Recording of a woman’s voice interrupts: HAS JOINED THE CONFERENCE
Bateman: — make it a, uh —
Recording of a woman’s voice interrupts again: HAS JOINED THE CONFERENCE
Chaney: Yeah, this woman is announcing that we’ve all joined the conference.
Bateman: Can you still hear us?
Chaney: I can hear you just fine.
Sudeikis: I can’t hear anything.
Bateman, to Chaney: It’s tough to hear you.
Chaney, borderline shouting: IS THIS BETTER?
Day: That’s much better.
Eventually I switched gears and decided to test their workplace ethics by asking them to rate, on a scale from 1 to 10, how reprehensible they consider certain office conduct. Here’s how that went.
Chaney: Using a co-worker’s coffee mug without asking first. How bad is that?
Bateman: Now is 10 your worst, or is one your worst?
Chaney: One is not that bad, 10 is your worst.
Bateman: All right. Repeat the question, please.
Day: It was using a co-worker’s coffee mug.
Chaney: Yeah, like picking up a coffee mug off of someone else’s desk and just using it.
Day: I’m going to say that’s one or a two. I mean, that could be an honest mistake.
Bateman: Well, hang on. Is the person’s herpes active or is it dormant?
Chaney: Uh, it’s dormant.
Bateman: I give it a five.
Day: That’s right down the middle for Bateman.
Chaney: Jason Sudeikis?
Sudeikis: I drink tea.
Day: He can’t relate.
Chaney: Second one: taking credit for work that a colleague actually did.
Bateman: Taking credit for work that a colleague did...
Day: That’s pretty bad.
Bateman: That’s top 10 for me.
Day: Yeah, that’s up there for me, too. Sudeikis is nodding. And he’s chewing.
Chaney: Oh, okay. Chewing is an 8, I guess. Next one: sending a false e-mail from a co-worker’s account — going into their e-mail and sending a message as if you were them.
Day: I mean, these seem like pretty despicable things to do. Do you do this stuff?
Chaney: No, I’m just working on the script for “Horrible Bosses 2,” so a lot of this is coming from that.
Bateman: I’d give that one a 1 or a 2. The e-mail I’m imagining has got some adorable emoticons on it and uh--
Day: It depends on the e-mail, I guess.
Bateman: — it’s a shout-out.
Chaney: This one is pretty benign: calling in sick when you’re not sick but just want to go to a baseball game?
Bateman: That’s a Ferris Offense.
Chaney: Yeah, it is a Ferris Offense. That’s the official name.
Bateman: I throw the Ferris Bueller flag on that.
Day: It really depends on what your job is. Like, if you’re supposed to deliver someone’s baby, that’s up there.
Chaney: Is Sudeikis nodding again?
Sudeikis: What’s that?
Chaney: I just asked if Jason was nodding again.
Sudeikis: Nodding off.
Chaney: I’m sorry.
Sudeikis: It’s been a long day. Sorry.
Chaney: I’ll just do a couple more of these. I don’t want to put Jason Sudeikis to sleep.
Sudeikis: Don’t start worrying about me, now.
Chaney: Dating somebody who used to date your boss: How bad is that?
Day: Dating somebody who used to date your boss...
Bateman: I’d give that a zero.
Day: That’s not a problem.
Chaney: Okay. And this last one is more directed at Jason Bateman — being a manager who karaokes inappropriately with his own niece during a company holiday party.
Bateman: You know, that was the one [“Arrested Development”] episode I directed.
Chaney: Was it?
Bateman: Yep. “Afternoon Delight.”
Chaney: So I guess you don’t think it’s that bad.
Bateman: If you’re speaking about the episode, I would say no. It was tip-top.
Chaney: It was. Absolutely.
Bateman: The offense? Listen, as long as all hands are above the table, continue singing.