Review: 'Horrible Bosses 2' is Filthy, Funny & Much More Outlandish
by Ethan Anderton
November 26, 2014
Comedy sequels are not easy to pull off. Unlike the horror, action and sci-fi genres, it's seemingly more difficult to improve upon what made the original film so enjoyable to begin with. While all of those genres are able to up the ante with bigger setpieces, explosions, scares and whantot, a comedy can usually only be funnier than its predecessor (or at least as funny) in order to appease audiences. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and Dumb & Dumber To fell short this year, but 22 Jump Street stepped up to the challenge magnificently. And I'm happy to say that this weekend's Horrible Bosses 2 is another comedy that not only matches wit with its predecessor, but may even be superior comedically, despite faltering elsewhere.
Horrible Bosses was a welcome, surprise hit back in 2011 from director Seth Gordon, but this time the reins have been passed to Sean Anders, who also co-wrote the script with John Morris (both of That's My Boy), working from an initial draft by the first film's writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. This could easily have been just an easy retread of familiar territory with Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day trying to screw over another terrible supervisor, but the story changes things up enough to make the sequel feel fresh, and also allows it to surpass the original in some ways.
This time, Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) are venturing into business for themselves with a helpful bathing tool known as the shower buddy. What starts as a promising business investment from billionaire Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), brought to his attention by his energetic, charismatic, but douchebaggy son Rex (Chris Pine) turns into a double cross, leaving the trio on the verge of losing their business, their invention, and basically their livelihood. Though their plot for revenge by kidnapping Rex and holding him for ransom seems like it's just taking us on a familiar path, it's the eagerness of the rich offspring to help them screw over his father that makes this even more fun.
Undoubtedly driving the movie are Bateman, Sudeikis and Day. Their chemistry is flawless, and the way they talk over each other, get into petty arguments and weave seamlessly in and out of conversations, insults and more makes this a comedy that you'll want to see a few times, simply because you're guaranteed to miss something one says due to laughing at something else said by one of the others. Bateman's dry, practical Nick, Sudeikis' perpetually horny and sarcastic Kurt and Day's frenetic and paranoid Dale are just a raucously hilarious team, and they make this sequel thoroughly exhausting from laughter, especially with the use of a couple well-placed callbacks to stuff from the first movie.
But we already knew that these guys were great together. What sweetens the deal is the addition of Chris Pine. Mostly known for his roles in blockbusters like the new Star Trek franchise and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, this is something we haven't seen the actor do before, and he is impressive as hell. Not only is he able to hold his own on screen with this comedic trio, but in scenes where he's driving the comedy, his energy, delivery and timing is massively entertaining, and shows that Pine can be much more than a handsome hero. He can also be a colossal prick, but one who really brings the funny. Unfortunately, Waltz seems wasted, relegated to a couple funny one-liners and a threatening demeanor.
There's also the return of Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey. They're not bossing the main characters around anymore, but they still fit into the story. Spacey feels a little more shoehorned into the proceedings than Aniston, but they each add considerable amounts of comedy in their own way, so I'm willing to let the contrived use of their characters (especially in the third act) slide simply because of the amount of laughter that comes from them. The same can be said for Jamie Foxx as Motherfucker Jones, the guys' go-to criminal advisor whose involvement towards the end of the film is what pushes this film into much more outlandish territory than the first.
In fact, it's the escalation of the plot and events that unfold because of it that I see as the only real flaw that that I would count against the otherwise wholly entertaining follow-up. In some cases, the escalation is fine because it allows for heightened comedy, but in others, particularly an extended car chase, it begins to border on being a little too ridiculous and unbelievable, nearing spoof territory. Aside from that, the actual conclusion of the movie is kind of a dud, both on a story level and comedic level. It's not enough to taint all the hilarity that ensued leading up to it, but it's certainly a bit of a disappointment. Otherwise, Horrible Bosses 2 is furiously funny, delivers a fresh enough story to stand out and improve upon the original, and is one raunchy good time at the movies.
Ethan's Rating: 8 out of 10
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