The follow-up to the 2011 hit comedy Horrible Bosses reunites Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as everyone’s favorite working stiffs: Nick, Dale and Kurt. Fed up with answering to higher-ups, Nick (Bateman), Dale (Day) and Kurt (Sudeikis) decide to become their own bosses by launching their own business in Horrible Bosses 2. But a slick investor soon pulls the rug out from under them. Outplayed and desperate, and with no legal recourse, the three would-be entrepreneurs hatch a misguided plan to kidnap the investor’s adult son and ransom him to regain control of their company.
While the original Horrible Bosses isn’t a great film, it works better than plenty of the other R-rated comedies that have hit in recent years thanks to the chemistry of its core cast. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis have a definite chemistry, and the titular bosses of the first film – Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell – all seem to be having a lot of fun in their roles.
Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t quite the disaster that we see with most comedy sequels. In fact, there’s plenty of humor the film is able to mine out of its plot, which thankfully doesn’t rehash the original’s plot. Rather than giving Nick, Kurt and Dale new horrible bosses, it turns out that they are the horrible bosses. The three are as inept at running a business as they were with trying to murder their bosses in the first film, and when they’re screwed over, they attempt a kidnapping even though they know they’re horrible criminals.
The chemistry between Bateman, Day and Sudeikis is still present, but it’s shifted a bit here. Bateman’s still the straight man of the group, but Day’s manic energy has been cranked up, and Sudeikis has been shifted from being closer to Bateman’s character in mannerisms to Day’s. It makes the humor a bit more idiotic at times, but it’s not a horrible development.
As for the rest of the film’s main cast, bringing back Spacey, Aniston and Jamie Foxx feels like an obligatory nod to their popularity in the first film, and at times their appearances threaten to drag this film’s plot. It’s particularly a shame because their combined screentime could’ve gone to Christoph Waltz, who’s sorely underused here.
Smartly, though, the film’s other new cast member, Chris Pine, gets plenty of time to shine. Pine’s made a name for himself in action films like Star Trek and Jack Ryan: Shadow Reacher, but if Horrible Bosses 2 does one thing right, it’s the proposition that Chris Pine should do more comedy. He’s brilliantly cast here, and he gives off an energy that matches the comedy pros he’s surrounded by for much of the film.
Really, the only significant problem with the film is the ending, and it’s a doozy of a problem. The film ends on a down note for our protagonists, and it feels like a major step back all the way to the beginning of the first film. That’s nothing, though, compared to a strongly ill-advised rape joke that’s shocking, not funny, and yet somehow inevitable based on what’s been shown prior to the “joke.”
The ending aside, I can’t deny that I enjoyed the film overall. I do think that a Horrible Bosses 3 should be avoided, though – based on the trajectory of this film over its running time, especially with that ending, I don’t know if I could make it through a third film. But for fans of the first film, there’s plenty to enjoy for most of the running time.
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