Film Review: Horrible Bosses 2 (★★)

horrible_bosses_twoA few years ago, I found myself chuckling far more than I expected to during the admittedly dumb comedy Horrible Bosses (proof found here). Fast forward to this year and I was actually a bit excited to sit down to Horrible Bosses 2…and then I saw the movie. A carbon copy of the first one with almost none of the charm or laughs remaining, it’s an overly convoluted bore that wastes the good will built up by the cast, who basically all return. The main trio of Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis look very bored, while co-writer/director Sean Anders bungles most of the attempts at jokes, showing an oddly poor sense of comic timing. To be fair, the script he co-wrote with John Morris is a poor retread that never find a reason to show you why it needed to be made (aside from money, that is). Horrible Bosses wasn’t high art in the least, but in comparison to Horrible Bosses 2, it’s an absolute classic. Aside from a small chuckle here and there (along with Jennifer Aniston being about as sexually blunt as anyone can possibly be), I didn’t laugh at any of the shenanigans on display here (and that includes the bloopers during the credits, which actually are closer to being amusing than most of the movie). Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t a good film at all, but at least it’s not overtly terrible. It’s just mediocre and a waste of time, through and through.

Picking up a period of time after the first one, we find friends Nick Hendricks (Bateman), Dale Arbus (Day), and Kurt Buckman (Sudeikis) going into business together after leaving the murdering boss business aside. They’ve come up with a shower accessory called the Shower Buddy and seem to have a big break when a Sharper Image type store run by Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son Rex Hanson (Chris Pine) decides to make a big order. Then, the order is canceled right at the worst moment, revealing that Bert Hanson plans to bankrupt the trio and steal their product. Faced with nowhere left to turn again, they wind up deciding to kidnap Rex in order to save their business. Of course, nothing goes well from there. Old friends like Dr. Julia Harris (Aniston), Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), and the man credited as MF Jones (Jamie Foxx) show up, but everyone is clearly going through the motions. Worse still, the plot is incredibly convoluted, making this an absolute slot to sit through.

1404153881000-XXX-HORRIBLE-BOSSES-2-MOV-jy-639-Part of the fun last time was watching the interactions of Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis, but this time they mostly just grate on you. Bateman plays the same exact role, though he’s so bored he almost looks like he’s about to fall asleep. He deserved better. I’m actually a fan of Day’s brand of lunacy, but here he’s just annoying and straight up moronic. The same goes for Sudeikis, who must have seen his character suffer brain damage at some point. The trio still have solid chemistry, but they just have nothing to work with whatsoever. Jennifer Aniston is again the best in show, though she’s basically a cameo here, with the same going for Kevin Spacey. Jamie Foxx has some more screen time than you’d expect, but it’s also in the serve of absolutely nothing. In terms of newcomers, Chris Pine sinks his teeth into a wacky role, but Christoph Waltz just appears disgusted by everything going on around him (rightly so). The supporting cast also includes the likes of Jonathan Banks, Keegan-Michael Key, and Lindsay Sloane, among others, but they’re wasted like everyone else. Aniston is your MVP if you want to name one, but it’s hardly a huge honor in this case.

Sean Anders and John Morris have made effective and funny films before, but that’s not the case here. The script that they came up with (along with John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein) recycles much of the first movie, only to greatly diminished effect. There are a couple of potentially interesting directions that the flick could have gone in (mostly involving the main guys and Aniston’s character), but the filmmakers back off each and every single time. It’s frustrating because I liked the first one and wanted to like this one. It’s just a misfire.

Overall, Horrible Bosses 2 might work for the folks who somehow laughed at the sequels to The Hangover or any of the other cash grab comedies that are comedies in name only. That being said, unless you’re desperate for something to try and make you laugh, you can do so much better, especially with many of the Oscar players out in theaters now. While it’s not the absolute worst thing in theaters right now, it’s not far off, so don’t even bother with Horrible Bosses 2. It’s just not up to snuff.

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!