“Hello Nick, guy who saved my life, guy who f****d my wife.”
Hate your boss? Become one yourself. That there is the general idea of Horrible Bosses 2. After getting what they wanted in their bosses being gone one way or another, best buds Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), Dale Arbus (Charlie Day), and Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) go all into a joint venture. The “Shower Buddy” is the result of an idea had over beers, and though it sounds like junk, there is potential to get this off the ground.
Some hustling and grinding by the threesome give way to an opportunity with an investor, and a meeting with father and son Bert and Rex Hanson (Christoph Waltz, Chris Pine), leads way to a partnership. The three appear to be on the path of living their dream until Burt decides to sever the business relationship in the 11th hour, leaving Nick, Dale, and Kurt with outstanding debt. With no feasible way to fight the tycoon in court, crime is the only way to get back control of the company. Except it isn’t murder this go-around, but a kidnapping and ransom of Rex. These things always go well.
When it comes to comedy sequels, more times than not they just do not seem to be needed. Perhaps more than any other genre, they seem to really exist just for a quick and sometimes easy cash grab. True, everyone and all genres are in the business of making money, and almost all sequels come in with a built in fanbase, but at least other genres can more effectively operate under a guise of “this story needs to be continued.” So many comedy sequels feel like complete wrecks, missing what was special with the original. To yours truly at least, maybe the biggest positive to take away from Horrible Bosses 2 is that while its existence is highly debatable, it is still a generally amusing but overall uneven raunch comedy.
HB2 at least cannot be accused of the exact same plot structure of its predecessor…at least for most of the movie. While at the essence it is still about committing a crime of some sort on a working boss, there is a concerted effort to throw many unforeseen occurrences throughout. It can feel a little too much at times however. Only in the last 20 minutes or so does HB2 become pretty conventional, even carbon-copied in many respects (read: key respect) of the first, and as a result, the climax is more like a whimper.
The usual lead suspects are back once again. The chemistry possessed with the three is still there, and all know what they are brought into do. Straight man Bateman is still one of the best dry comic actors today, Day comes with the moronic, overly-loud in places shtick, and Sudeikis brings no filter to the party.
They play off of each other well, but the assumed-to-be improvisation goes on far too long in places, almost as if there is nothing there in a scene but the director Sean Anders (Sex Drive, That’s My Boy) tells the trio to keep talking to try and make something funny. Uneven is what it is. Going off of the audience (and my) pattern, this film seemed to be loaded with consistent laughs in chunks, but not as a whole.
Of the new additions, Chris Pine either steals the show, or comes pretty close to doing so. Going off of what was shown in the trailer, I had no idea of how he would fit in here, but the fact is he easily holds his own with the other, more traditional comic actors and even outshines them in moments. More comedy roles may be in his future if he wants them. Christoph Waltz joins him as well, but he isn’t around enough to truly make an impression despite being key to the plot.
Two of the three previous bosses make a return here in Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey. While it is nice for a short while to see these two return, one has to wonder why they are needed here. Aniston is still busy on a mission to get her holes filled by any man who is upright (or bedridden), but this time her character isn’t as fresh and just mainly comes off as a crazed 40-ish woman who has issues. Her comedic bits this time are more vulgar and offensive but not in a particularly laughable way.
For my money, Kevin Spacey is the definition of a horrible boss, and lo and behold he is back here. He possesses one of the funniest scenes in the film though, so he does have that going for him. And last but not least, everyone favorite motherf****r in Dean “MF” Jones is in the house portrayed by Jamie Foxx. Yours truly didn’t love him from the original so nothing really changed here, though he is cool in spots. He’s the same guy as before, nothing more or less. The big issue with this trio’s inclusion this time around is that when they turn up in the story’s confines, it never feels natural. Rather, it feels pretty forced, like some screentime quota was in the contracts of these actors to appear, even if it was during a time that didn’t make a ton of sense.
So, the question is asked again. Did Horrible Bosses 2 really need to be made? The short answer is probably no, but it is here and there is nothing that can be done about it. There have been worse comedy sequels, but the performance review on this one is pretty middling.
Photo credits go to whysearch.com, technologytell.com, and flicksandthecity.com.
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