Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

New Crime. Old Tools.

In 2011, the tasteless, filthily outrageous, warped workplace comedy Horrible Bosses made an absolute killing at the box office, grossing more than a hundred million dollars in the United States alone. Thus, by the laws and logic of Hollywood, a sequel was, of course, inevitable. Reuniting long- suffering pragmatist Nick (Jason Bateman), perennially horny Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and the clueless Dale (Charlie Day), who is now a father of triplet daughters, Horrible Bosses 2 delivers much of the same stupid — and often perversely enjoyable — comedy, anchored by a cast so good, so game and so in-tune with their on screen personas that many scenes wind up being funnier than they probably sounded on paper. While a sequel to Horrible Bosses does come across as unwarranted and unnecessary, director Sean Anders, Sex Drive (2008), does a decent job keeping proceedings fresh and amusing, while building on the wonderfully crafted characters from the first installment, rather than rehashing old material.

So, why would Nick Hendricks, Kurt Buckman and Dale Arbus even consider attempting to ‘murder’ their boss a second time around? Wouldn’t they have learnt from the mistakes made in the first picture? Obviously not! After failing to kill their ‘horrible bosses’ in the original flick, Nick, Kurt and Dale decide to reclaim their lives and independence by becoming their own bosses. Creating a car-wash-inspired showerhead, tentatively named the ‘Shower Buddy,’ the three, at first, have some difficulty finding financiers; though things begin to look promising after a slick investor billionaire, named Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), approaches the lads, with his son Rex (Chris Pine), an arrogant heir to the Hanson family fortune. Burt admires Nick, Kurt and Dale’s commitment to manufacturing the product themselves, agreeing to invest if the trio can make a hundred thousand units of the ‘Shower Buddy.’

'I'll play that sex crazed maneater one more time.'
‘I’ll play that sex crazed maneater one more time.’

Taking out a business loan, Nick, Kurt and Dale rent a warehouse, hire employees, and manage to produce their output. Alas, Burt backs out of the per-arranged deal at the last minute and plans on taking the trio’s inventory and selling it — renaming the product ‘Shower Pal’ — himself, leaving the threesome with a colossal debt on their hands and an outstanding loan. So once again, Nick, Kurt and Dale are forced to contemplate criminal measures, after innocently falling prey to Burt’s scam. Desperate and outplayed — with no legal recourse — the three would-be entrepreneurs devise a harebrained, misguided scheme to kidnap the investor’s son, Rex, and ransom him to regain control of their company, also allowing them to pay off their withstanding debts.

There’s certainly plenty going on in this follow-up, much of it unfolding in sporadic bursts of stupidity, as countless scenarios are placed in front of our protagonists, evoking laughter due to the threesome’s idiocy. Nick, Kurt and Dale sweat, squabble and offend a television host, Mike, on the air, played by a short-lived Keegan-Michael Key, Let’s Be Cops (2014), accidentally crash a sex addiction group while trying to break into the office of Dale’s sexually rapacious boss, Dr. Julia Harris, Jennifer Aniston, We’re The Millers (2013) — appearing in her first ever sequel — and, in a frenetically frenzied final act, the trio find themselves involved in an all-out car chase, aided by Motherf****r Jones, an out-of-control Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained (2012). The script, penned by director Sean Anders and John Morris, who both co-wrote We’re The Millers (2013), is genuinely funny, though the gags can be quite distasteful at times, poking fun at just about anyone — from racial slurs to homosexuality — whilst taking particular delight in embarrassing its three leads at every possible turn. Almost every witty and/ or tactless joke that lands hits the right mark, with very few that barely raise a chuckle. However, this flick is definitely not for the easily offended, as it seems to take place in a world where everyone is either being degraded or degrading someone else.

Just your average working-class criminals!
Just your average working-class criminals!

The picture’s biggest asset is undoubtedly its able cast, as Bateman, Sudeikis and Day bicker and banter energetically, striking up an amiable chemistry that makes some of the script’s crasser/ implausible moments work exceedingly well. Day in particular is hysterical, nailing all his lines and coming across as authentically funny. All three leads have an awfully sound understanding of their character’s distinctive personalities and it’s evident within the trio’s riotous interactions. It’s also great seeing Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx reprising their roles from the first film, along with Kevin Spacey, American Beauty (1999), who plays Nick’s old boss, Dave Harken, now in prison, although the repetitive gags that accompany these second-tier characters may get a bit tiresome. The surprising standout is newcomer to the franchise Chris Pine, Star Trek (2009), who exudes such a charming willingness to give himself over to the crazy comedy of his role, stealing pretty much every scene he swaggers through. The only disappointment is Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds (2009), sadly under-used as sly and ruthless investor Burt Hanson, who does the dirty on our gullible protagonists.

Did a sequel to Horrible Bosses really need to exist? No, probably not. But, since it does exist, there’s something to be said about the tremendous efforts of the film’s hugely appealing cast and apt director, Sean Anders, keeping the flick refreshingly fun, whilst ensuring this second blunder is bigger and wilder than its predecessor. Bateman, Sudeikis and Day’s evident friendship, and sublime comic timing, frequently elevate a film that’s just about as crass, unruly and wittedly amusing as the original outing. While I’m pretty certain the already tired jokes can’t support a third film in the franchise, the box-office receipts for Horrible Bosses 2 may beg to differ.

3 / 5 – Good

Reviewed by S-Littner

Horrible Bosses 2 is released through Roadshow Entertainment Australia