I guess getting bent over by their superiors the first time wasn’t enough. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis and Academy Award winners Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz star in Horrible Bosses 2.
Cast of Characters:
Nick Hendricks – Jason Bateman
Dale Arbus – Charlie Day
Kurt Buckman – Jason Sudeikis
Dr. Julia Harris – Jennifer Aniston
MF Jones – Jamie Foxx
Rex Hanson – Chris Pine
David Harken – Kevin Spacey
Burt Hanson – Christoph Waltz
Director – Sean Anders
Screenplay – Sean Anders & John Morris
Producer – Brett Ratner, Jay Stern, Chris Bender, John Rickard & John Morris
Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout
Following the events of the first film, friends Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) and Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) have quit their jobs to launch their own business selling an invention they made called the “Shower Buddy”. Needing a financial backer, they make a deal with investor Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), but he ends up stabbing them in the back.
Now broke and feeling betrayed, the trio get back at Burt by kidnapping his son Rex (Chris Pine) and putting up a ransom of $500,000 in order to win their business back.
Horrible Bosses was one of the most successful comedies of 2011, receiving some fairly positive reviews and earning over $200 million on just a $35 million budget, which right there guarantees a sequel. While it wasn’t giving anything groundbreaking, it still delivered plenty of gut-busting laughs thanks to its terrific cast and a solid premise.
Of all the film genres, comedies are the most difficult to make successful sequels ’cause, more often than not, there’s not much to do with the stories other than just going bigger the next time. They’re created not ’cause the narrative requires it, but ’cause the first film made a ton of money. Now, I usually avoid throwing out the term “cash grab”. I mean, at the end of the day, even the most avant-garde art house filmmaker is full of shit if they say they don’t care if their film makes money or not. But if I had to give any film that title, it’d go to Horrible Bosses 2, a lazy and unfunny retread of its 2011 predecessor.
It’s not the rehashed elements that turned me off here ’cause there have been comedies before this that have stuck with the formula and it worked simply ’cause they got me to laugh. The problem here, aside from no laughs (well, other than the ones in the trailer), is that this film is stuck on autopilot. The guys are once again stuck in a crappy job, they get screwed over and decide to get revenge. Everything’s the same, except director Sean Anders and his co-writer John Morris double-down on the raunchy jokes. Of course, all is forgiven if the laughs are present, but they’re non-existent. Worse, this is led by a cast that can produce laughs easily in their sleep, yet the only sound responding back to them is crickets chirping.
It’s rumored that the original idea for this was to have Bateman, Sudeikis and Day start a business and become the horrible bosses, turning into what they fought against in the first film. See, that idea is intriguing and is almost flirted with when the trio’s business falls apart. It’s a nice turning of the tables twist, and it’s at least something different, but why take any risks? After all, when you have a cast this talented at your disposal, why put any effort into the film when you can just let them carry the entire load?
Horrible Bosses mainly worked ’cause of the great dynamic between its stars. This time around, it’s like Anders and Morris figured guidance and a script are a waste of time. Just roll the camera and let the cast run with it. However, as talented as those involved are, they get nothing to work with. Sure, a good line or two will pop up, but everyone just seems to be phoning-it-in here. Jason Bateman can play the low-key straight man like a pro, but the chemistry he had with Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day before is tarnished by the latter two morphing their likeable schmucks into annoying idiots. Jennifer Aniston’s return as the sex-crazed dentist has her doing the same schtick, but the fault there has less to do with that than it does her presence feeling shoehorned in just for the sake of having her character back.
It’s only Chris Pine who seems to have any enthusiasm here as Rex, the high-strung jackass son of Christoph Waltz. Waltz, on the other hand, is completely wasted in a useless role. It should be considered criminal how underused the filmmakers make of his talent.
Out of all the comedy sequels that have come out this year, Horrible Bosses 2 is at the front of the pack for least justifiable reason to exist. Sure, it manages to force out a couple laughs, but the script reeks of laziness, the jokes are uninspired, and worst of all, it completely wastes its talented cast. If you have a film starring three Oscar winners, an SNL alum, and three acclaimed sitcom veterans, and you still have to throw in an end credits gag reel as one last desperate attempt for laughs, that’s a tell-tale sign you dropped the ball big time.
I give Horrible Bosses 2 a D (★).