Horrible Bosses 2
Directed by Sean Anders. Starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Christoph Waltz, Chris Pine, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Banks, Andy Buckley, Jamie Foxx, Brianne Howey, Kelly Stables. Written by John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein, Sean Anders, John Morris.
Sometimes it’s the small things. During a discussion of the movie Predator in Horrible Bosses 2, Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) expresses his modest admiration of the movie and then turns to Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis).
“I like Predator, too,” he says. After a beat, he clarifies his opinion: “I mean, I like Predator, also. Not the movie Predator 2.”
It won’t get a uproar from the audience, but it’s stuff like this that gets to me. Despite all the raunchiness and violence in the rest of the movie, there’s an irrepressible goofy charm at play here that just puts a smile on my face. It’s an underlying innocence that sets the film apart from nihilistic modern comedies like Neighbors or Sex Tape.
This film was clearly a blast to make; in almost every frame, it’s evident that the performers – not just the central trio of Day, Sudeikis, and Jason Bateman, but also the eclectic supporting cast, which features three Oscar winners – are having a good time.
You’ll have a good time, too, if you can get down with the general sense of camaraderie. The best moments in the film – like the one cited above – feel like they have been improvised; a gag reel during the closing credits contains more laughs than many of the gags contained within the script.
That script is credited to Jonathan M. Goldstein & John Francis Daley (who also co-penned the first film) and Sean Anders & John Morris (We’re the Millers); Anders also served as director, filling in for Seth Gordon. If only they had as much fun writing this movie as theactors did while filming it: instead, what’s on paper is utterly formulaic, with a decided lack of imagination.
Still, the performers keep things lively. Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day return as Nick, Kurt and Dale; in the previous film, they tried to murder their oppressive, abusive bosses. Here, they’ve started their own company, with a product called the “Shower Buddy”, a shower head gadget that also dispenses shampoo; neither innovative enough to be genuinely interesting or awful enough to be genuinely funny, it’s a particularly bland invention that highlights the lack of thought put into the screenplay.
When hotshot businessman Bert Hansen (Christoph Waltz) cancels an order for thousands units – and, in typical Talking Killer mode, details his plan to re-buy them for nothing once the trio’s company goes bankrupt – NickKurtDale faces a grim scenario: not only will they be forced to go back to working for The Man, but the colorful band of characters they’ve hired to work for them will also be out of work.
The solution? Crime, of course: our heroes devise a plan to kidnap Bert’s obnoxious son Rex (Chris Pine, who showcases a real flair for this kind of thing) and hold him for ransom. What could possibly go wrong?
While there’s little plot packed into the surprisingly straightforward narrative – the first film was labyrinthine by comparison – it’s enough to serve as a springboard for the performers. Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day are a riot, and share a wonderful rapport; the film’s success is almost entirely dependent on how appealing you find them.
Back from the first film are Jennifer Aniston as Dale’s sex-crazed ex-boss, and the object of both Kurt and Nick’s affection; Kevin Spacey as Nick’s now-incarcerated ex-boss, who the trio visit in prison for some business advice; and Jamie Foxx as the criminal ‘mastermind’ who the trio once again turn to for help in their non-business pursuits.
The supporting cast is just as appealing – and funny – as the central trio; only Waltz, playing it completely straight, is under-utilized. Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks shows up as a rugged detective once the kidnapping scheme is underway.
It may not break any new comedic ground, but Horrible Bosses 2 has a number of genuine laughs and an undeniable charm that overcomes its frequent vulgarity. Hopefully you’ll have as good a time watching it as the performers had making it.