Horrible Bosses 2, 2014.
Directed by Sean Anders.
Starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey.
Dale, Kurt and Nick decide to start their own business but things don’t go as planned because of a slick investor, prompting the trio to pull off a harebrained and misguided kidnapping scheme.
Any cinema which cares about the wellbeing of its patrons should put signs up outside the screening rooms showing Horrible Bosses 2 warning them they are about to enter ‘A Laugh-Free Zone’ where anything resembling comedy will be forbidden from showing on the screen. However, they won’t so I’m doing the best I can to warn you away from this miserable excuse for a comedy.
What makes the film so excruciatingly bad is just how forced every situation feels from the first scene to the last. This isn’t a film as much as it is a series of scenes strung together by the very thinnest of plots which still has to be front and centre in every scene for there is no other reason for the characters to be together. The writers do nothing to make the audience care about a single situation the three leads get into as long as they can banter and bicker, which would be fine if what they if the script or improv were remotely amusing. It’s simple film maths; script without genuine laughs + nothing to care about – the actors’ charm to get by = bad film.
The best comedies where a ‘mixed bag’ of characters get together a driven by the amusing and often surprising sequences where characters are introduced to establish each person’s reason for being in the film and how they interact with the others around them, and where the plot takes a back seat for the first act to allow us to get familiarised with the antics. Once done, the ensuing plot has earned its place, regardless of how nonsensical. Think about the structure of successful modern comedies like The Whole Nine Yards, The Hangover, City Slickers, Anchorman, Meet the Parents; none of these movies assault the audience with the mechanics of plot and where A must lead to B and then to C, only for the inevitable screw up to occur to extend the run time and maybe have an frantic finale. Moreover, they establish characters which we learn to like and are played by actors which are clearly having fun playing them. Audience feed off of the actors’ ability to convince us they are having a great time in movie such as these.
Now think about the sequels to all of the films mentioned above. Not good. Not a single one of them.
Yet that old saying of ‘it looks good on paper’ applies to them all; mostly the same cast and crew and made within a few years of the initial box office hit, yet none of them warranted a sequel because there was never a story to tell, nor could there ever be a decent story to tell. So what happens is the weakest of plot is constructed and the actors take double their first pay cheque because they have to be on board to market the film but put in half the effort. The audience can feel the lack of enthusiasm coming off the screen.
The same applies to Horrible Bosses and this unnecessary and inept follow up. Gone is the genuinely fun friendship between the three leads Charlie Day, Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis from the first movie, and replaced by the same exchanges scene after scene after scene:
Charlie Day: “(says something stupid)”
Jason Bateman: “(Says the truth, points out Charlie Day’s observations as misguided)
Charlie Day: “(Acknowledges truth, corrects himself)”
Jason Sudeikis: “(Swears, says something unrelated)”
One or more characters: “(Explains plot and what they’ll do next)”
End Scene. Repeat.
Each of the leads are at the most grating in the film given that they are playing exaggerated version of what was already an exaggerated character to begin with. No is that stupid/dry/crass but in the sequels everything has to be multiplied by ten and in comedy that is rarely a good sign. What also makes this film a non-starter is the supporting cast of Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx, all of whom are put into proceedings with a crowbar rather than reason. Chris Pine is the only one having fun but his character is just another douche bag we’ve seen countless times before an, like the rest of the film, everything he says or does is motivated to move the plot which is exhausted way before the film is even halfway through.
Nothing about the film works in any way care you look at it. Sure, if Charlie Day SCREAMING is funny to you, or if hearing Jennifer Aniston talk dirty still offers some shock value then there might be something here, but for the majority of viewers looking for a genuinely good time, this film offers nothing but the regret of having paid money for a ticket and maybe wasted petrol driving to your cinema. When you measure a film by how much of a waste of fuel it was, then you know it was bad.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Rohan Morbey – follow me on Twitter.
Listen to the Flickering Myth Podcast review of Horrible Bosses 2 using the player below: