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Review: Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

Directed by: Sean Anders

Premise: A sequel to the 2011 film. The three lame wannabes (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day) from the first movie form a small business but fall into a trap set by a scheming investor (Christoph Waltz). They kidnap the investor’s son (Chris Pine) in an attempt to force a better deal but things don’t go as planned.

What Works: Horrible Bosses was a popular comedy and so fans of that film will probably enjoy the sequel since the filmmakers are careful to retain many of the characters and plot beats of the original picture. Like its predecessor, the strongest element of Horrible Bosses 2 is the banter between Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day. These three men play off each other pretty well and Day is especially good as the most hapless member of the group. Horrible Bosses 2 adds Chris Pine to the cast; Pine has usually played dramatic parts in serious movies but even in those performances he has shown a capacity for comedy. Pine gets to showcase his comedy chops and he brings manic energy to his scenes.

What Doesn’t: The original Horrible Bosses wasn’t a very good movie and the storyline did not suggest a sequel but the first film did make a lot of money and so Horrible Bosses 2 exists for financial rather than artistic or even comedic reasons. Making unwarranted sequels isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the filmmakers can conjure material that is funny and innovative enough to justify the existence of a follow up. That’s where Horrible Bosses 2 runs afoul. This is the kind of sequel that has no ideas of its own. The movie rides on the good will of the audience, reminding viewers what they liked about the first picture but never doing anything to distinguish itself. This is evidenced by the way in which the filmmakers shoehorn characters from the first movie into the sequel, namely Jennifer Aniston as the predatory dentist, Kevin Spacey as a corrupt businessman, and Jamie Foxx as a criminal consultant. There is no reason for Aniston and Spacey to be in this film other than for the marketing department to put the actor’s faces on the poster and the filmmakers give their returning players nothing to do. The movie introduces a new horrible boss played by Christoph Waltz. The casting of such a well-respected actor in this role is clearly intended to replace the part played by Kevin Spacey in the first film but Waltz is entirely wasted. Try as they might to recapture the popular elements of the first film, Horrible Bosses 2 is resoundingly empty largely because it jettisons the central conceit of the property. The first movie was built around the idea that three middle management types who were victimized by their abusive supervisors were going to get even. Although the first film wasn’t very good that premise was at least appealing to anyone who has suffered through a job they hated or a supervisor they didn’t respect. The sequel no longer has that fundamental gimmick. If anyone in this film is a horrible boss it is the three lead characters who mismanage their business, resort to stupid criminal hijinks when things don’t go their way, and hire female employees with the intention of sleeping with them. And that leads to the fundamental problem of the Horrible Bosses movies: the three central characters are unlikable and uninteresting idiots. The crew of The Hangover films, as idiotic as they were, managed to be distinct characters who were interesting to watch. The three white collar would-be-criminals of the Horrible Bosses films are as bland as their business shirts and khaki pants. Two of the lead actors—Bateman and Day—are competent performers but like the prestigious supporting players, the main cast has little to do and the filmmakers show no interest in trying to come with anything interesting.

Bottom Line: Horrible Bosses 2 is a lousy sequel to a mediocre movie. There is nothing to this film except a lazy walkthrough of call backs to the first picture.

Episode: #520 (December 7, 2014)