Horrible Bosses 2 Review
A GOOD MINDLESS SEQUEL THAT HAS
MORE LAUGHS THAN A PLOT
Back in 2011, Horrible Bosses graced the silver screen, tapping into average worker (9 to 5ers) frustration of slaving underneath wretched bosses. Presented as a comedy, the film showcased the lives of Nick, Kurt, and Dale as they try and murder their respective superiors. In general, the film was met with mostly positive reviews with some criticism for being too vulgar in its comedic gags as the film took in over 200 million at the box office (not bad for a film that took only 35 million to make). Fast forward a couple of years as Warner Bros have just released its sequel titled Horrible Bosses 2. Does this sequel strike comedic gold or is it unnecessary part deux of a movie?
After their antics and follies of trying to depose their viscous bosses, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day) have collectively invented a machine that helps with users distribute shampoo while showering. Eager to cash in of their invention, the three friends are approached by wealthy tycoon mogul Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), who is looking to investment in their product and place a very large order for the trio to fill. The guys, excited by this prospect, proceed forward with renting a warehouse, hiring employee, and churning out their shower product, only to find out that they were goateed by Burt; setting them up to fail with the intention of seizing their company (and product) for his own. Facing financial bankruptcy, the trio decides to kidnap Burt’s spoiled son Rex Hanson (Chris Pine) and exact money for his safe return. Unfortunately, they soon find out that Rex is more than handful than they first realized, seeking out help from old friends and enemies to fall back on their bad “criminal” antics.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
Initially, I passed on seeing Horrible Bosses, waving it off as just another run-of-the-mill raunchy comedy. It was until recent that picked up a copy of the first film and actually found it quite hysterical after viewing it. So, naturally, I went into Horrible Bosses 2 with a good frame mind of what to expect. After switching my brain back on after I left the theater, I felt that Horrible Bosses 2 was good, but not great, offering more of the same comedy as the first film and nothing substantially new per say.
The true major downside to this sequel is in its narrative. The whole kidnapping “switcheroo” plot and its machination is a passable one that doesn’t rise to the occasion. Just like other sequel comedies of recent (22 Jump Street and Hangover Part II), the movie also follows the same beats of the first installment, but in just a bigger and perhaps bolder way. Horrible Bosses 2 employs this tactic, but its bark isn’t worth its bite, lacking substance in its story structure. The result is a movie that tries to change it up with a new scenario, but feels a vaguely familiar to its previous counterpart. It’s a lazy effort on the writers that sort does hinder the movie from going above and beyond the first film.
Perhaps a result of this lethargic effort was determined by the absence of many of the creative team behind the first Horrible Bosses (including director Seth Gordon) who did not return for the sequel. Sam Anders, who’s previous worked on mediocre comedies such as We’re the Millers and Dumb & Dumber To, takes the job of directing this comedy along with John Morris as the film’s producer. Even the film’s script, which was original penned by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, was rewritten (by Anders and Morris) before production began. In my opinion, all of these things are perhaps what contributed to placing Horrible Bosses 2 in less favorable light.
Putting all that aside, the comedy in Horrible Bosses 2 is quite funny. There are a couple of great one-liners in the film as well as some raunchy adult humor that will surely make you laugh out loud a few times. While its comedy range is good, it’s nothing truly groundbreaking with the occasionally offensive joke and misogynistic gags that play out in most films of this caliber. If you don’t mind that, then you’ll have a great time watching this movie.
What makes the movie’s comedy works so well is its three male leads, who are always “on” with their back and forth banter amongst themselves and their quick “improvisation” quips. Each one brings something to laugh at whether its Bateman’s sarcastic remarks, Day’s yelling spasms, or Sudeikis’s goofy charm. It worked well in the first one and it definitely works well in this feature. Pine’s character Rex Hanson is a good addition to the trio, cracking up his totally arrogant persona of Captain Kirk from his recent Star Trek films up to its maximum level. Sadly, Waltz’s character of Burt Hanson is a wasted opportunity with little screen time to make a lasting impression and to show off his terrific theatrical talents. As a final note, several characters from the first film make an appearance in this sequel such as Kevin Spacey’s Dave Harken, Jamie Fox’s “MF” Jones, and Jennifer Aniston’s Dr. Julia Harris. Though some have large screen time than others, these characters are more relegated to cameos, portraying their colorful personas (more or less) from the first rather than adding more complexity to them.
It’s hard to produce a sequel that rises above its predecessor in all things. Horrible Bosses 2 tries really hard to do so, but comes off a secondary installment, lacking originality and perhaps relying too much on its raunchy humor. To me, despite its mediocre script and shell of a story, the movie finds its mark with its hilarious comedic strides with its three males leads. If you’re looking for a mindless movie with a lot of adult humor laughs, then Horrible Bosses 2 is the movie for you this holiday season. Just don’t expect it to be something more than that.