Horrible Bosses 2 Review

Posted: December 1, 2014 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

In this day and age where vulgar R-rated humor has dominated the mainstream comedy circuit for the better part of a decade, 2011’s Horrible Bosses was a pleasantly surprising and inspired entry into the genre which nowadays, if you ask me, has its head way too far up its own ass. Now it’s three years later, and here we have the inevitable Horrible Bosses 2, which is nothing more than further proof that you can have too much of a good thing. This is especially heartbreaking for me to say because the original remains one of the funniest R-rated comedies of recent years, and while this sequel does still provide reminders of the first film’s energy and charm, most of the time it just hammers home the point that sequels — particularly comedy sequels — are one of the toughest things to successfully pull off.

Following the events of the first movie, the lovable trio of Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have escaped the crippling clutches of their former horrible bosses and have now entered into their own business. They’ve created a new product known as “The Shower Buddy,” introduced in a talk show-set opening scene, and said product catches the eye of Rex (Chris Pine) and Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), a father/son duo who promise to invest in the guys’ invention … only to screw them over at the last minute, thereby threatening to send their business into foreclosure unless they can find $500,000 to cover the outstanding loan. Just how do they eventually decide to get their hands on that kind of cash, you ask? Why, by orchestrating an elaborate kidnapping scheme, of course! After first seeking the advice of Nick’s former boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), now incarcerated in prison, along with their go-to crime consultant Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx), the trio embark on their newest scheme, but naturally, things start going wrong for them almost immediately.

When it comes to comedies, most of the time there seems to be a Law of Diminished Sequels, The Hangover Part II being one of the prime examples. Now while Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t as bad or as lazy as that second entry, there’s still no denying that this is nothing more than the latest in a long line of half-baked sequels, something made even more obvious by the fact that I re-watched the first film just hours before seeing this one and still laughed hard at the original regularly. To be fair, though, this movie does have some good laughs and one-liners, and while I laughed consistently, most of them were either obligatory laughs or mere chuckles. In that respect, if Horrible Bosses 2 has a main problem, it’s that it tries too hard to be funny most of the time. A lot of the jokes have such a desperate feeling to them, and some of the time they commit the same sin as The Hangover Part II in that there are jokes that go as far over the line of vulgarity as possible, and not in the most natural of ways. Whereas all of the humor in the first film had such a natural flow to it, the humor in this sequel is mostly and noticeably strained in a lot of areas.

Next up on the list of things wrong with Horrible Bosses 2 is new director and co-writer Sean Anders, whose comedic skills pale in comparison to previous helmer Seth Gordon’s. Anders and his other co-writer, John Morris, occasionally do manage to re-capture the magic of the first film where scenes involving just the three main characters are concerned, but when it comes to all the other stuff, the comedy gets pretty stale by the halfway mark. Take, for example, a certain sight gag not five minutes into the movie that feels more at home in an Austin Powers comedy rather than this franchise. Anders and Morris also overexploit elements of the original that worked so well there because they were done in moderation; Jennifer Aniston’s Julia Harris character returning, and in what capacity, feels like the biggest offender here. Not unlike the inclusion of Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx, her inclusion in the plot seems more contractual than anything else. Obviously, the first Horrible Bosses has its fair share of vulgarity, but much like the original Hangover, it managed to handle it with a certain ease that feels lacking from this installment. Then there’s the way in which Horrible Bosses 2 finally succumbs to the same problem as The Hangover Part II and just falls back on the same plot structure as the first in its final third, despite it showing some initiative and changing things up a bit for the first two-thirds.

On the bright side, though, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day haven’t missed a beat in terms of their chemistry, and this movie is at its best when it just lets these guys interact without trying to overshadow them with whatever new outrageous gag is being thrown out there. Those moments of interaction honestly feel like this movie’s most inspired moments and prove that this sequel could’ve just been about them figuring out various small problems as opposed to one big dilemma and it would’ve been just fine. Apart from the returning faces, new additions Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz round out the cast. Now, I’ve liked Chris Pine in his previous roles where the most required comedy were merely quick sarcastic moments of it here and there, but his part in this movie makes it obvious full-on comedy is not his natural forte. Pine simply overdoes it in a throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks manner, not to mention his character’s douche bag qualities don’t come off as amusing as the writers clearly hope. But the most depressing thing about the cast is that Christoph Waltz, normally so great, is utterly underutilized in what should’ve been the juiciest supporting role in the entire movie. Seriously, how do you cast Christoph Waltz as the new horrible boss and NOT take advantage of that?!? Just imagine if Waltz could’ve channeled his Hans Landa character for this film; oh, what a waste.

I had hopes for Horrible Bosses 2 going into it, but we can’t always get what we want. While it isn’t without its inspired moments and effective one-liners here and there, this is a sequel that feels like the result of a greenlight from the kind of unenviable employers of the title.

**/****

Comments
  1. reel411 says:

    yikes, another remix to the last film, eh? i do love the last film, but i kinda don’t want to see it played out again

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