Good for a few laughs, not much more
SEAN Anders’ Horrible Bosses 2 barely skips a beat picking up from its predecessor and reintroducing a trio of hapless worker drones discovering their entrepreneurial inspiration and seeking to become CEOs themselves. Although not everyone will be giving thanks as this sequel lands on the upcoming holidays, some will seize on the film’s familiar casting and relatable situations as reason enough to celebrate.
Dispensing with any details regarding how the protagonists managed in their newly realigned work situations after the convoluted events that concluded Horrible Bosses, the follow-up finds Nick (Bateman), Dale (Day) and Kurt (Sudeikis) striking out together with an undernourished plan to secure investors for their prototype “shower buddy,” a device that dispenses soap, shampoo and conditioner from a single bathroom fixture.
Without sufficient startup capital, or much of a clue, they hope that their appearance on an LA morning news TV show will give them a boost. Improbably, they’re contacted by Boulder Stream, a massive mail-order catalogue company. They gladly accept an offer from CEO Bert Hanson (Waltz) to purchase 10 000 shower buddy units, take out a $500 000 bank loan and set up a manufacturing operation. Proving they’re no better at giving orders than at taking them, the partners hire a motley staff of shockingly unqualified job seekers and proceed to turn out the massive job in record time.
Hanson promptly cancels the order, however, intending to force the entrepreneurs into bankruptcy and snap up the shower devices at a fraction of the wholesale cost. Demonstrating the same woefully weak critical thinking skills that almost landed them in jail for planning to kill their obnoxious bosses in the previous episode, the men hit on a plan that’s equally harebrained. They figure that kidnapping Hanson’s smug son Rex (Pine) should net them enough ransom money to pay off their debt and remain in business.
Once again, they seek advice on pulling off the crime from convicted movie pirate Dean “MF” Jones (Foxx) and Nick’s ruthless former supervisor Dave Harken (Spacey), whose incarceration for murdering Kurt’s old boss hasn’t mellowed out his killer business instincts in the least. What they don’t count on is Rex turning the tables on them, drawing the three into a new plan to defraud his father that’s so complex that they’re sure to royally screw it up.
Aside from the easily relatable wish fulfilment inherent in the franchise’s premise, the simplicity of the movies’ setups provides plenty of room for convoluted complications to ensue. However, scripters Anders and John Morris can’t seem to surmount the problem of repetitive plotting that also characterised the first film.
While individual scenes sometimes rise to a level of inspired absurdity, taken together they feel excessively episodic. Progress is also hindered by too much similarity between the characters: Nick’s bemused straight man overlaps with Kurt’s unreliable yes-man, and both are only slightly less clueless than Dale’s dim-bulb Everyman.
The actors imbue their roles with enough likeability that it hardly seems to matter, at least until the jokes start growing stale well before the film’s midpoint.
Instead, it’s the supporting cast that really shines, with Spacey practically spitting depravity from behind prison walls, Foxx laying on the wannabe gangster routine nice and thick and Aniston returning as Dale’s foul-mouthed, sex-addicted former employer.
Although Waltz’s supercilious business mogul would have benefited from more screen time, Pine as his entitled son introduces such manic humour that he steals more than a few scenes, although the comedy overall feels more forced than organic as the action enters the final act.
Anders’ comic sensibility makes for hilarity in some the more originally conceived scenes, but bogs down in predictability with reliance on too many stock situations. – Hollywood Reporter
If you liked Horrible Bosses or We’re the Millers, you will like this.
HANDICAPPED HUMOUR: Kurt Backman (Sudeikis), Nick Hendricks (Bateman) and Dale Arbus (Day) on the golf course in Horrible Bosses 2.