Horrible Bosses 2
Back when it came out, I thought Horrible Bosses was one of the better comedies to hit movie screens in a while. Three years later, I honestly think it holds up, and now Horrible Bosses 2 manages that most difficult of feats: it’s a comedy sequel that doesn’t disappoint.
The secret, as always, is that they find something new to do with the same core characters, and they’ve got plenty to work with here. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day have a great three-way chemistry as Nick, Kurt, and Dale, but just dropping them back in with new bosses they hate would be a lazy retread of the first film. Instead, the filmmakers again draw inspiration from the economy. Our heroes were stuck in their jobs during the depression, so it’s only appropriate that they pull themselves out through entrepreneurship.
The three have decided to go in together on their new invention, the “Shower Buddy”. It’s a neat product, and they’ve got a solid prototype, but they forgot one important point: none of them have a clue what they’re doing. Still, after a disastrous appearance on a TV morning show trying to drum up investors, they get the backing of a Sharper Image-like catalogue with a huge initial order.
Of course they overextend themselves to fulfill the order; of course Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), the owner of the catalogue, backs out, leaving them on the hook for their loans with no way to repay. When you’ve tried your best to be honest and forthright in your business deals and you still get screwed by the rich and powerful guy across the table, there’s only one solution: kidnap his son Rex (Chris Pine) and demand a heavy ransom.
Where Horrible Bosses worked as an extended riff on Throw Momma From the Train, Horrible Bosses 2 takes its inspiration from Ruthless People. Rex wants to soak his father for all he’s worth too, so he sides with the hapless threesome; Burt cares more about his money than his son’s safety, so he immediately goes to the police. This conveniently makes the whole affair that much more complicated, setting up a Grand Plan that’s as much fun to see explained as it is to watch it fall to pieces.
Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day play off each other marvelously. It’s a bit reminiscent of The Three Stooges without being a straight-up copy. Sudeikis and Day form a nicely manic pair among themselves, with Bateman back to the unflappable last-sane-man bit he’s so good at. Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx each reprise their roles from last time, and there’s plenty of room for each of them to expand on their characters. Waltz has always had great comic timing, even in his more dramatic roles, and even Chris Pine is fun when you turn his preppy broishness back as a joke against itself.
Bit after bit after bit fires off, and even the ones I didn’t particularly care for still work, just aimed at a different comic sensibility than mine. It’s fun and funny and even exciting in places as it whizzes smoothly along. You could certainly find worse ways to escape your family this holiday weekend.
Worth It: yes.
Bechdel Test: fail.