A Sequel That’s Minus the Bosses
The first “Horrible Bosses” was an outstanding comedy about three best friends who plot to murder their bosses and botch it up. It was well written and featured one of the strongest comedy teams around. In addition to being a commercial success, it became a genre standard. However, its success was inevitable for the (sometimes horrible) Hollywood studio bosses to greenlight a sequel, which left a big question mark on how the franchise would progress or decline.
In “Horrible Bosses 2,” Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) have quit their old jobs and opened their own business, which is built on their creation of a car-wash-inspired shower head called the “Shower Buddy.” Their struggle to find investors ends when they meet father and son Burt and Rex Hanson (Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine). Burt backs out, and the trio are left in massive debt, which leads to them devising a plan to kidnap Rex and hold him for ransom to repay their losses.
In the sequel, the three main characters are more self-aware in the knowledge they are not murderers, so to solve their predicament, they resort to “KIDNAPING.” While their plan is more complex and has more opportunity for comedy than their one in the first film, the execution of it falls flat.
Unlike its predecessor, “Horrible Bosses 2” is out of touch with its audience. The first film explores worker relationships with stereotypical horrible bosses which are: ”The Psycho”, “The Maneater” and “The Tool.” The movie ultimately moves away from relatable workplace relationships and replaces it (without giving away too much) with a vulture capital firm — significantly less relatable for the audience.
Bateman, Sudeikis and Day have the best on-screen chemistry between a comedy team than anyone else out there, second to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Their charm is the biggest success of this franchise, as it can clearly be seen in both films and quite frankly is the closest thing to redemption for the sequel’s faults.
As the villains, Christoph Waltz’s and Chris Pine’s screen time should have been reversed. Christoph Waltz, a genius in his own right with critically acclaimed performances in “Django Unchained” and “Inglourious Basterds,” is severely underutilized in his role. Chris Pine is a shell of an actor in general and his performance in this movie is shallow and weak even for him. His character has the opportunity for depth because of his increased screen time compared to Waltz, but Pine’s weak skills keep the character at the most surface level possible.
Humor-wise, the jokes are lazy and the film relies on racist, homoerotic and sexist jokes for a cheap laugh. It additionally relies on improbably — bordering on the absurd — situations and idiocy to pass as comedy.
“Horrible Bosses 2” overall feels like a big mishap. The plot stumbles along and is primarily driven by accidents. The characters transform from morons to geniuses and back depending on what the script demands. The first “Horrible Bosses” deserved a sequel that is character-based, relatable and clever — unfortunately, the actual sequel itself delivered a promising but poorly-executed plot filled with more holes than a colander. However, the strong performances by the entire cast (excluding Pine) does warrant the film a viewing if the above weaknesses can be overlooked.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: “Horrible Bosses 2” doesn’t function as a good sequel to its predecessor, but the charm of the cast still warrant a watch.