Horrible Bosses was an enjoyably dopey, mildly obscene and occasionally amusing lads comedy that successfully tapped into the fantasy of the little guy getting the better of arrogant bastards, corporate bullies and crass, undeserving rich kids. The film worked because the three wage-slave knuckleheads Nick (Jason Batemen), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) who plotted to off their obnoxious bosses were endearing enough to make us forget that they actually planned to kill other human beings. The film wasn’t exactly brimming with original comic ideas and tended to rely on the simple-minded humour of lovable dolts stuffing up everything they attempted. Very little has changed in the sequel Horrible Bosses 2 which proves to be a tolerable but uninspired re-tread of the first film.
Set a few months after the events of the first movie, the sequel sees the three lads trying to escape the tyranny of 9-5 servitude by opening a business selling a contraption called ‘the shower buddy’. When they receive a huge order for their device from catalogue owner Burt Hanson (Christophe Waltz) and his repulsive brat son Rex (Chris Pine), the boys think they’ve struck it rich. Of course the corporate sleaze ball Hanson rips off the lads – who appear to have ignored small things like contracts – leaving them with a humungous unpayable bank loan. The film switches to a caper movie as the three knuckleheads once again decide that crime is the only answer and hatch a plot to kidnap the repulsive Rex and extort his despicable dad for half a million dollars.
As in the first film the plot is merely a frame-work for Three Stooges-style hijinks as the boys do everything they can to bugger up their own schemes and land themselves in serious trouble with the law. Disappointingly, many of the gags are simply variations on the clumsy idiot, weird sex, bodily function and genitalia jokes we saw in the first film. Also, in a startling display of unoriginality the film pinches the obscene shadow-play gag from Austin Powers. Still, the gags should amuse enterprising 14-year-olds who sneak into the cinema. Right thinking audiences should, however, be appalled by the depiction of women in this film as they are seen as either sex objects or obstacles to the boys’ immature fantasies.
Surprisingly, the caper element of the story works quite well with an inventive scam that’s as interesting as anything in the Oceans films. Unfortunately, the execution of the scam forms only a brief part of Horrible Bosses 2.
The three guys are still likeable enough to keep audiences on side with Jason Bateman once again enjoyable to watch as the decent guy despairing as his idiot buddies drags him into the muck. Jason Sudeikis sails close to being an 80’s style party animal throwback but his gleeful disregard for personal safety and human decency is amusing. Charlie Day is the same squeaking rodent he was in the first film and while some of his idiotic behaviour is funny his shtick is getting a little tired. Oddly, large sections of the film simply involve the guys stuffing around which is sometimes fun but occasionally grates and look as if outtakes have been left in the movie.
Three of the stars from the first film, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Jenifer Aniston have passable cameos but are really just here to lend their A-lister gravitas to proceedings. Christoph Waltz is clearly slumming it in this type of film but he makes Burt Hanson a genuinely dislikeable corporate fiend. Chris Pine’s Rex is essentially the equivalent of the Colin Farrell character from the first film (remember him). While Farrell’s role was mercifully brief, Pine takes up way too much screen time and displays as much charisma as his Australian political namesake.
This is pretty much what we would have expected from a Horrible Bosses sequel and while this may be damning the film with faint praise it is at least better than its comedy cousin The Hangover Part 2.
Nick’s rating: **1/2.
Director(s): Sean Anders.
Release date: 4th Dec 2014
Running time: 108 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show
- Film review: HORRIBLE BOSSES from Built for Speed
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- Film review: WE’RE THE MILLERS, from Built For Speed
- Film review: SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE, from ‘Built For Speed’
- Film review: OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY, from ‘Built for Speed’