Horrible Bosses 2 (United States, 2014)November 25, 2014
Horrible Bosses 2 (emphasis on "horrible") is an apt title for this repugnant, unnecessary sequel. Painfully unfunny and unnecessarily long, this movie is the antithesis of its predecessor, the delightfully raunchy Horrible Bosses, which chronicled the attempts of three nice guy workers to enact vengeance on their employers. Although the sequel co-opts the actors and character names from the first movie, it does so without the involvement of director Seth Gordon and screenwriters Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan M. Goldstein.
It is, of course, well established that comedy is subjective, so perhaps there are viewers who might label this a modern classic of hilarity. For my part, I didn't laugh once during the 108 minutes Horrible Bosses 2 was on screen - even the end credit outtakes failed to amuse. The humor is on par with jokes that ten year old boys tell each other in school bathrooms. While it's entirely possible to be entertained by dirty, juvenile comedy, that's rarely the case when it's as cheap, easy, and predictable as in Horrible Bosses 2. Rarely are jokes funny when you know the punchline before it's delivered, but that occurs repeatedly throughout this film, displaying director Sean Anders' poor sense of comedic timing and delivery.
As if failed humor wasn't bad enough, two of the three main characters - Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) - have been transformed from likeable schlubs into gratingly irritating morons. Although Sudeikis manages to be only moderately annoying, Day is attempting to out-Galifianakis Zach (circa Hangover 3). Only Jason Bateman, who comes back as the low-key Nick Hendricks, makes a smooth transition from Horrible Bosses to Horrible Bosses 2. Returning Type-A Personalities Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey, who reprise their roles with (respectively) over-the-top sex appeal and vitriol, are among the best Horrible Bosses 2 has to offer, but their screen time (especially Spacey's) is woefully limited. Jamie Foxx is also back as the guy whose name can't be printed in a family newspaper (the credits refer to him as "MF Jones") and whose antics are less enjoyable the second time around. Of the newcomers, only Chris Pine's hyperkinetic performance as the amped-up Rex is worth mentioning.
Horrible Bosses 2 reunites us with the protagonists of the first movie as they prepare to bring their jointly manufactured invention, the "Shower Buddy," to market. The device, which seems to be a glorified shampoo dispenser, attracts the notice of a mail order catalog company run by Rex (Pine) and his dad (Christoph Waltz). They order 100,000 units then renege on the deal, sending Nick, Kurt, and Dale on the freeway to bankruptcy. Their get-even plan involves kidnapping Rex… who proves to be an all-too-willing victim.
For a few moments, I thought Horrible Bosses 2 might be headed into "The Ransom of Red Chief" territory. More's the pity that it didn't - O. Henry knew considerably more about writing clever twists than Anders and John Morris. At one point, the movie offers something of potential interest by depicting two versions of how a ransom scenario could play out: one in which everything goes according to plan and one in which Murphy's Law intervenes. Sadly, this sounds better on paper than it plays out on screen. Like most of the rest of what Horrible Bosses 2 offers, it doesn't work.
Horrible Bosses 2 is like most comedy sequels that exist solely because their predecessors made money. As is often the case, they are borderline unwatchable - a distinction that applies here. The creative well that allowed Horrible Bosses to tickle the funny bone with crude and profane accuracy has run dry and the only thing the sequel provides is another turkey for Thanksgiving weekend.
Horrible Bosses 2 (United States, 2014)
Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx
Screenplay: Sean Anders & John Morris
Cinematography: Julio Macat
Music: Christopher Lennertz
U.S. Distributor: Warner Brothers