Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Jason Bateman as Nick Hendrick
Jason Sudeikis as Kurt Buckman
Charlie Day as Dale Arbus
Jennifer Aniston as Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S.
Kevin Spacey as Dave Harken
Jamie Foxx as Dean “MF” Jones
Chris Pine as Rex Hanson
Christoph Waltz as Bert Hanson
Jonathan Banks as Detective Hatcher
Lindsay Sloane as Stacy Arbus
Keegan-Michael Key as Mike
Kelly Stables as Rachel
Jerry Lambert as Skip
Directed by Sean Anders
Following the events of “Horrible Bosses,” friends Nick, Kurt and Dale (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) have decided to go into business for themselves, coming up with a shower appliance that could make them rich. When wealthy entrepreneur Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son Rex (Chris Pine) invest in their company, things are looking great until they realize it’s a ploy for the more experienced businessmen to steal the company from the trio. The three decide to kidnap Rex to try to get enough money out of his father to save their company.
By now, everybody knows how hard it is to pull off a sequel to a popular comedy, which is probably why wiser filmmakers and actors do their best to avoid it altogether– just reflect on how long it took to get sequels to “Anchorman” and “Dumb and Dumber.”
The first thing one notes about this sequel to the 2011 R-rated comedy is that there aren’t any actual “horrible bosses” in it, so we’re already starting off in a bad spot compared to the original movie’s easily accessible premise of three friends who plot to kill the aforementioned bosses that have been ruining their lives. With those problems already resolved, some night wonder, “Well what happens next?” I’m certainly guilty of wondering such a thing, so I’ll take as much blame for this blatantly obvious money grab sequel as anyone else.
From the very opening which involves the three friends from the previous movie going on a morning show to talk about their moneymaking invention which hopefully will allow them to go into business for themselves, it’s evident the filmmakers tasked with coming up with a suitable sequel just didn’t have a strong enough central premise to act as a follow-up.
Don’t get me wrong, because I’ve generally enjoyed director Sean Anders and his co-writer John Morris’ earlier work on films like “Sex Drive” and “Hot Tub Time Machine,” as well as last year’s “We’re the Millers.” It’s obvious Anders doesn’t seem to have quite the same comedy directing chops to pull off a successful sequel in the same way as original director Seth Gordon, so he often falls back into a pattern of taking what worked so well to try to save what doesn’t.
As before, the big draw for the movie is the indelible pairing of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, none of them really doing much more than what we’ve seen them doing countless times before in other places. As before, Bateman easily slots himself into the straight man role to Sudeikis and Day, whose idiotic ideas and statements constantly bristle with their seemingly more intelligent colleague.
The real thing that made the original movie so hilarious was the actual bosses, who were much more horrible than anything offered by the sequel. Watching Colin Farrell as a disgusting individual both in appearance and mindset was a highpoint, equally matched by the bosses played by foul-mouthed Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston’s sex-crazed dentist Julia. Two of the three return but Spacey makes a small appearance to give the guys advice, and Jamie Foxx’s “MotherBLEEPer Jones” plays a similar role and like Spacey, only has a couple of key scenes, although he does take part in the film’s ubiquitous car chase.
Instead, we get Christoph Waltz, who doesn’t have to do anything particularly challenging as the ruthless mogul who tries to screw over the friends, and God knows what Chris Pine was thinking when taking on the role of his pompous douchebag of a son, except that maybe he thought he could pull off a more comedic role. He can’t and he doesn’t. Pine just isn’t funny and being that he spends the most time on screen with the three far funnier stars of the film, he’s completely out of his league, often to the point of destroying the dynamics that worked so well.
There are a couple of truly laughable moments like watching each of the three actors attempting a Southern accent to try and throw off the police, but the humor constantly goes for the lowest hanging fruit like Nick pretending he’s gay to peak Julia’s interest or a sight gag from right out of “Austin Powers” during a talk show demonstration. The stuff with Aniston basically relies on her saying the most outrageously graphic sexual things and that only goes so far.
It leads to them coming up with an intricate plot to get the ransom money from Rex’s father, and by the very nature of the trio’s incompetence we’ve seen so far, it’s pretty predictable that their foolproof master plan will immediately go wrong and that’s exactly what happens.
Frankly, after being treated earlier this year with such a slamdunk comedy sequel like “22 Jump Street,” it’s much harder to accept what is ultimately a lazy and uninspired attempt that barely captures or recreates why the first movie was so hilarious. And when it does work, that’s only because they fell back on the same formula with a poor carbon copy.