Movie Review: 'Horrible Bosses 2' (2014)

It’s always hard to maintain the quality of the original movie when the inevitable sequel is conceived. In the case of “Horrible Bosses 2” it fails to land anywhere close to its predecessor. The likable best buds, dark comedy, outlandish villainy and outrageous raunchiness that made the original a surprisingly decent culmination of naughty fun, isn’t captured in the slightest with this ham-fisted sequel.

To its credit it attempts to craft a new storyline instead of retreading the same formula. However, as the old saying goes “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. Taking that advice would have served this movie a lot better than the route it chose to take.

Hitting on the screwed over and fed-up working guy motif of the previous installment; Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have created an invention they hope will take them to the big leagues as entrepreneurs so they can forever escape being under the thumb of a nefarious boss.

Unfortunately for them, things go awry when their mega-successful investor (Christoph Waltz) rips them off. Not looking to take it sitting down, they hatch a plan to kidnap his snooty son (Chris Pine) for ransom in a bid to recoup the money they’re owed.

Empathizing with their plight as wronged small business owners is easy to do. However the script provides them with few favors after laying that seed. While in the previous movie they were by no means geniuses, the trio did demonstrate a high enough IQ to make it believable they were capable of planning an elaborate scheme and an average enough one to believe they'd make mistakes.

For the characters in this version, it would take a miracle for them to screw in a light bulb. For it to actually turn on and create light would require the intervention of a higher power. As a result viewers are forced to laugh at them as opposed to with them, a negative move. By dumbing them down to this degree, the relatable guys from the first movie are compromised beyond repair.

Taking over the reins from prior director Seth Gordon, Sean Anders struggles to find the comedic rhythm that Gordon previously struck. The pace lags and bits that are not funny to begin with, linger for far too long, only growing more tiresome as they reach a point of awkward tension.  

Jennifer Aniston’s sexed-up character pops in with the highlights of the movie. Her dialogue at times becomes so pervasive in its attempt to shock that its contrivance shows more than it did before. Despite that Aniston seizes hilarity in a performance that spares no restraint.

Bateman, Sudeikis and Day maintain their strong screen chemistry and garner some organic laugh-out-loud moments in the process. The problem is their characters are developed to such frenetic heights that it distracts from any salvageable coherence in the quieter and more genuinely cultivated gags.

Chris Pine gives a fluid and vibrant performance that borders on cartoonish as the stereotypical archetype of a spoiled rich kid with daddy issues. While Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx’s glorified cameos barely amount to 6 minutes of screen time, they both do well with what they have to work with.

The way Waltz’s character is handled is indicative of a major problem with the entire movie. It doesn’t have a definitive direction. The script seems designed to bridge the gap between disastrous scenarios without enough of a plot backbone to handle the lulls in between.

The lack of a consistent and pure villain especially disrupts the flow of having someone to root against. Not that there’s much in the way of having anyone to root for. To sum it up, “Horrible Bosses 2” is not utterly horrible, it’s just horribly disappointing. Rating: 5.5/10

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