Horrible Bosses 2

Not even the proven chemistry of its cast can redeem this formulaic comedy con-job.
Tom Clift
Published on December 15, 2014


Pointless, derivative follow-ups to profitable Hollywood films aren't exactly a recent concept. The first big-screen sequel can be traced back to 1916's The Fall of a Nation, which attempted to cash in on the popularity of D.W. Griffith's silent (and incredibly racist) epic The Birth of a Nation after it stormed theatres the year before. While in that case the sequel was a commercial failure, the seeds of soulless corporate greed had been planted. Suffice it to say, studio executives have been laughing their way to the bank ever since.

So why the film history lesson? I guess it's to point out the fact that, even in the context of Hollywood's long legacy of artistic bankruptcy, it takes a particular brand of cynicism and greed to make a comedy sequel, about three working guys sticking it to The Man, for the sole purpose of exploiting the financial success of the original. The fundamental hypocrisy of Horrible Bosses 2 is staggering, although admittedly that wouldn't be nearly as much of an issue if the movie was actually, y'know, funny. Unfortunately, not even the proven chemistry of its cast can redeem this formulaic comedy con-job, one that's totally unworthy of your time and, perhaps more importantly, your money.

Directed with barely a shred of visual personality by the same hack responsible for such yuck-fests as Sex Drive and the Adam Sandler statutory rape comedy That's My Boy, the second film in the Horrible Bosses please-don't-let-it-be-a-trilogy reunites idiot protagonists Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day). This time out, they're their own bosses, until they make the mistake of partnering with a German businessman (Christoph Waltz) who swindles them for everything they've got. So they decide to kidnap his son Rex (Chris Pine), because after all, if the previous film taught us anything, it's that there a no consequences to your actions and that crime definitely pays.

Bateman, Sudeikis and Day are all talented comedians, but there's only so much they can do with such a formulaic and puerile screenplay — incidentally, for any aspiring screenwriters out there, any time your opening scene steals a sight gag from Austin Powers: Goldmember, it's probably time to go back to the drawing board. The best moments in Horrible Bosses 2 have the feel of cast improvisation, but are few and far between. The same can't be said, unfortunately, of jokes at the expense of women, gay people and ethnic minorities, although to be honest these moments feel born more of laziness than genuine malice.

Then again, on further reflection, that might actually be worse. Say what you will about the woeful sequels to The Hangover, but at least they were unrepentant in their nastiness. Horrible Bosses 2, on the other hand, manages to be both offensive and bland. The good news is that we'll probably only have to sit through two more sequels and a Jennifer Aniston spinoff before the whole thing finally goes away.


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