– by Tom Munday
Selfishly so, most Hollywood comedies aim squarely at younger audiences. Responsible for major commercial gains, the teenage/adolescent demographic has elevated several comedy franchises. Reaching for formula over originality, audiences relish – alarmingly so, perhaps – in the Hangover series, Judd Apatow’s filmography, and Seth Macfarlane’s foibles. Obviously, it’s the most subjective cinematic genre. For every positive reaction, a wholly negative one immediately follows. The Horrible Bosses franchise’s success has been entirely predictable. If you are sick of Hollywood’s ever-lasting “nothing but sequels and remakes” vibe, you will want to avoid Horrible Bosses 2 like the plague. It fits primarily into the modern studio system’s broad sense of humour, but still has fun doing it.
The sequel, picking up three years after the original, lends our three plucky leads some success. Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day) quit their workplaces to become their own bosses. Going into business together, their invention – the Shower Buddy – is set to be the next uber-popular home appliance. However, hindered by a disastrous morning TV demonstration, our plucky inventors seem destined to beg for their old jobs back. Soon after, however, they receive a call from egomaniacal entrepreneur Rex Hanson (Chris Pine). Bolstered by Rex’s captain-of-industry father Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), their offer for mass marketing and distribution seems too good to be true. Sadly, it is.
In true modern comedy fashion, our three friends, after being tricked into bankruptcy and foreclosure by the Hansons, launch into a bizarre plan to kidnap Rex and get their money back. Comedy sequels follow a tiresome and lazy formula, and this installment needed to fix the original’s noticeable flaws. The original, good but not great, feels like a typical studio effort. Falling into the same traps as the aforementioned failed sequels, this installment walks the all-too-thin line between fans and series newcomers. Tripping over the original’s conventional formula, this sequel falls back on old, tiresome tricks. The sequel, by referring to specific events and pointing out plot-holes, presents itself as a self-aware spoof condemning out-there comedy premises. However, by sticking so close to the original’s structure and sense of humour, Horrible Bosses 2 never legitimizes its existence. Downgrading from murder to kidnapping, or as Kurt writes: “kidnaping”, its story sluggishly goes through the motions. As our three amigos hatch the plan, the narrative borrows whole twists and turns from similar farces. In addition, the movie, wholly mimicking the original’s third act, runs a car chase through the climax. Above all else, the supporting characters add little to proceedings. Expensive, lowlife criminal Motherf*cker Jones (Jamie Foxx) shows up to give more, even-sillier advice. Despite his hysterical one-liners, including a laugh-out-loud summation of crime-comedy 9 to 5, Foxx merely shows up to collect a hefty paycheque.
Horrible Bosses 2 forgets about one valuable aspect: the bosses themselves. Two of the original’s psychotic superiors, imprisoned executive David Harken (Kevin Spacey) and nymphomaniac dentist Julia (Jennifer Aniston), add nothing but gross-out jokes and expletives to the sequel. This time around, our three leads run rampant through the entire plot. Wackiness ensues, as Nick, Earl, and Dale slip into multiple awkward scenarios and slapstick gags. Bateman’s character becomes the responsible and rational leader. Sudeikis, yet again, plays the womanising, nonsensical moron. Meanwhile, Day falls back on yelling and waving his arms throughout.
Despite the repetition and uncontrollable improv, our three comedic stars work well together. Elevating themselves above the Wolf Pack, this ensemble fills each frame with hysterical lines and kooky facial expressions. Bateman, sticking to his Arrested Development shtick, is everlastingly effective. As the yin to Sudeikis and Day’s Yang, his tempered mannerisms and sharp comedic timing elevate the material. Sudeikis, fresh off Saturday Night Live and We’re the Millers, scores several major laughs as the second tier idiot. As a mix of charm and malice, the comedic-actor solidifies his merits. Meanwhile, Day further solidifies his red-cordial, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia energy. Oddly enough, Pine stretches himself to fit the ultra-douche role. Throwing himself around, his wackiness tickles the funny bones. Sadly, Waltz is relegated to the sidelines as yet another underdeveloped baddie.
Horrible Bosses 2, scraping the bottom of the comedy-franchise barrel, is an underwhelming, stupid, yet mildly charming sequel. Copying and pasting from the original, the movie’s soulless plot and irritating characters almost destroy the mission. However, its talented cast and laugh-out-loud moments construct a quaint 110-minute distraction. As usual, Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day elevate otherwise forgettable and mind-numbing material. In addition, Pine, Spacey, and Foxx amplify some of the movie’s most absurd sequences. Despite the positives, a third installment redundant is now wholly redundant.
Poster credit: Power FM
Banner image: Corriente Latina