“We’re not boss material,” states Nick (Jason Bateman) after a potentially sound career-making investment goes belly up. “We’re worker bees.”
In the new comedy Horrible Bosses 2, the sequel to the surprisingly successful 2011 original, the mismatched partnership of Nick (Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) reteam with an idea they hope will revolutionize having a shower, and they go on TV’s Good Morning Los Angeles to plug it. It’s the Shower Buddy, a device that shampoos your hair while you take care of other things. Even though they still haven’t found a financing partner, the three guys, determined to be their own bosses, promote their new device on breakfast TV in the hope that someone watching might want to bankroll their invention.
That financing partner comes along in the shape of self-made millionaire Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz) who lets the boys know he loves the product, promises to buy a huge order if they can manufacture a large amount of the shower device, and dazzles them with the promise of financial success finally giving the boys the independent wealth they’ve always dreamed of.
Then it happens. Hanson and his son Rex (Chris Pine) pull their order at the last minute knowing that the partnership company of Nick, Dale and Kurt will have to go into bankruptcy. Once the boys have lost everything, Hanson can then step in, buy the Shower Buddy for pennies and make a ton for himself while the clueless Nick, Dale and Kurt remain penniless, wondering what happened. “You honestly think hard work creates wealth?” Hanson laughs at the boys after telling them what he’s going to do with their fledgling company. “The only thing that creates wealth… is wealth!”
Just like the original, the three guys seek revenge. “We need somebody who can get our company back,” Kurt announces, and off they go on another romp, this time involving kidnapping, ransoms, and return visits from Kevin Spacey as David Harken who is now in prison, Jennifer Anniston as Julia Harris, the dentist whose sexual appetite continues to have no limits or boundaries, and Jamie Foxx as Dean Jones, the guy who plants the idea of kidnapping in the trio’s heads by asking, “How do you kidnap someone who don’t know they’ve been kidnapped?”
The first half of the film where everything is getting established and we become reacquainted with characters we’ve met before, Horrible Bosses 2 works. The setup wastes no time, the jokes come fast and Jennifer Anniston shines once again playing way against type in her best screen role, plus the familiarity of already knowing the characters from the first film works in the sequel’s favor.
When Spacey turns up seated behind the glass booth in prison during visiting hours, audiences laugh even before he speaks. The same with Anniston’s sex-obsessed dentist. Without her even doing anything, the first time she appears, audiences react. Like characters you warm to after regular viewing in a sit-com, personalities and their comedic traits already familiar tend to make you smile in anticipation of what you already know. When Anniston’s receptionist is watching a late-night security video recording of the offices she spies Anniston’s Dr. Julia having all kinds of kinky sex in each room. “Enjoy,” Julia says over her shoulder. “It’s good stuff.”
But the second half when the kidnapping plot falls apart, so too does the film. Part of the issue is that both the guileless Dale and Kurt are so annoyingly stupid rather than funny, you’re left wondering – as you might have done in the first film – why the sensible Nick remains with them. In the original they were thrown together by circumstances that forced them to form a partnership, but now – other than the fact that this is a sequel and it needs all three guys to be together again – you have to wonder why they’re still friends.
The comedy also gets strained. Like the first film, the vulgarity works only so far. In fact, with the exception of Anniston’s character and her brazen approach to quickies, the film doesn’t really need the gross-out moments, and what’s worse, that toothbrush joke of the first film is actually repeated. After awhile, what initially sounded like funny dialog as the three guys bicker among themselves develops into nothing short of white noise as three voices continually overlap. It’s as though they’ve run out of steam and the only way left to get laughs is to have the sensible Nick, the neurotic Dale and the clueless Kurt motor-mouth over each other as often as possible.
Still, there’s fun to be had in the first hour where Katy Perry’s Roar becomes a running joke, Jason Bateman’s look of exasperation grows funnier as his cohorts continue to mess every plan up, plus the sight of the clueless threesome using Dora the Explorer toy walkie-talkies when executing their plan is a great gag.
MPAA Rating: R Length: 108 Minutes Overall Rating: 6 (out of 10)