'Horrible Bosses 2'
Sequels are hard to pull off in general, but comedy sequels seem to be the most difficult beast to master. Few things are less funny than a joke you’ve heard too many times. By necessity, most comedy sequels tend to run a good joke into the ground. The first ‘Horrible Bosses’ was hardly a classic to begin with, so despite one hell of a cast, an extra trip back to the well was almost guaranteed to come up empty.
When we last left our intrepid trio of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, the guys barely got away with a handful of botched crimes against their (you guessed it) horrible bosses. Now the boys have decided to be their own bosses by launching a business around a showerhead that spits out shampoo. They screw up a morning talk show launch horribly, but somehow attract the attention of a major distributor led by the politely insidious Christoph Waltz and his spoiled son Chris Pine.
Since the trio don’t want to sell their idea outright, Waltz encourages them to get an indie manufacturing facility up and running on their own, with a promise to sell their products once they’ve produced the first 100,000 units. Like the idiots they are, Bateman, Sudeikis and Day go deep into debt making that dream a reality without signing a contract. Once they’ve achieved their goals, Waltz reveals that he has no intention to buy the showerheads and will instead buy their whole company for a song once they declare bankruptcy. Obviously, the guys don’t take this well and decide to kidnap his son for ransom to save their hides and get revenge. They get cold feet on the night, but Pine ends up loving the idea and helps arrange his own kidnapping for an even bigger ransom than planned. Obviously, everything goes wrong and the filmmakers find a way to shoehorn in Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston’s characters from the last movie, just because.
The biggest problem with ‘Horrible Bosses 2’ is simply that it has no particular reason to exist. The story from the original flick might not have been brilliant, but it at least felt complete when the credits rolled. Most of the first hour of this sequel is spent simply justifying its existence and setting up a plot that can charitably be described as nonsense. Sure, the cast are talented enough to cough up a few laughs along the way. You just can’t put guys like Day, Sedeikis and Bateman on screen together without getting some laughs, even accidentally. However, by the time all the characters are established and the idiotic kidnapping plot is set into motion, director Sean Anders (of the surprisingly decent, if appropriately vile ‘That’s My Boy’) and his vast team of screenwriters simply run out of material to squeeze humor from. The last 45 minutes or so are dedicated to an ill-fated ransom exchange that goes on forever and sacrifices laughs in favor of action spectacle. As we all know, with a few exceptions like ‘Ghostbusters’ or ‘The Blues Brothers’, making a comedy bigger and more expensive never makes it funnier.
If you absolutely adored ‘Horrible Bosses’ beyond all reason, then there’s a chance you might get something out of this sequel despite its considerable flaws. The cast is undeniably talented, and they jam in plenty of laughs in spite of the script. (In particular, whenever Bateman and Aniston get filthy together, there are good times to be had.) Likewise, director Anders has a bit of a nasty streak in his humor that elevates the sequel above the usual fluffy studio comedy in a few instances with some pretty harsh laughs (even if his show-off visual flourishes rarely do anything but slow the movie down).
There’s simply too much comedy talent involved in the movie for it to be a total bust. However, it’s a big sloppy mess that exists purely because the first flick was successful, not because it has a second story worth telling. Like most comedy sequels, ‘Horrible Bosses 2’ is a completely pointless enterprise that does nothing other than bolster a few movie star bank accounts and suck away a couple hours of your life. If nothing else, the movie at least proves what a good comedy sequel ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ truly was, so maybe it’ll help a few sourpuss critics realize that they were far too hard on that title a few weeks ago. At least that’d be something.