With Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz. Written by Sean Anders & John Morris. Directed by Sean Anders. Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout. 108 minutes.
As lowbrow comedies go, “Horrible Bosses” was a cut above “Bridesmaids” and “The Hangover.” That may not be saying much, but apparently it scored a sufficiently big box office that someone decided that a sequel was in order. A sequel was not necessary, but while as Hollywood is making us wait another year for the second half of “Mockingjay,” here we get a film that no one needed.
At the start of HORRIBLE BOSSES 2, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day) are getting ready to launch a new business in which they will be their own bosses. When they are outmaneuvered by the crafty Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his arrogant son Tex (Chris Pine), they plot an elaborate crime to get their revenge and save their business. As with the plots to murder their bosses in the first film, we’re waiting to see things go haywire.
Back for more of the same are Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx. Aniston is the sex-crazed dentist who is less interested in relationships than trophies. Spacey’s character, now behind bars, serves as a profane counselor to the hapless trio, while Foxx–as a criminal whose nickname has the initials “M.F.”–advises them on their latest outing on the wrong side of the law.
The humor is wildly uneven, always going for the crudest sort of sex joke, which will probably ensure a “Horrible Bosses 3.” Some of the best laughs come from Bateman’s deadpan reactions to his goofy partners who can always be counted on to do the wrong thing. The exasperation may be real as he realizes the number of sequels for which he may be on the hook. Sudeikis (whose character is a bit sex-crazed himself) and Day (as the nervous father of triplets) get to act silly and broadly overplay their scenes. It sets the tone for nearly everyone else in the film.
The new arrivals are Waltz and Pine, and they join right in with the mugging. Waltz gets nothing like the Tarantino-penned dialogue he excels at so he gets to be the polished villain of the piece and little more. Pine also seems to be hitting one note, but as the story progresses, his character evolves–no spoilers here–and Pine is up to the task.
It’s a mixture of sitcom humor and raunch, which will fit right a year from now when the film pops up cable. It’s not as stupid as an Adam Sandler or Melissa McCarthy movie that makes you want to claw your eyes out, but neither is it something you’ll remember in any great detail a week from now. In short, it’s a movie that exists solely to separate uncritical viewers from their money, providing just enough entertainment value that people won’t feel ripped off.
Indeed, if any movie deserves to be damned with faint praise, “Horrible Bosses 2” is it.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His most recent book is Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.