Good for a few laughs, not much more

The Star Early Edition - - TONIGHT FILM - JUSTIN LOWE

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.

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