Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: "Horrible Bosses 2"

I liked “Horrible Bosses” just enough to give it a wobbly recommendation. It was a scattershot-funny comedy with a novel premise: three working stiffs decide to off their evil bosses, with each doing another’s tormentor to throw off suspicion. Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikas and Jason were agreeably dippy as modern guys trying to get medieval, and failing pathetically.

It did well at the box office, so here’s the inevitable sequel, with an almost entirely different set of filmmakers swapped out and anything resembling cleverness leached away.

The setup is that the trio has now left behind the world of worker bee slavery to become their own bosses. They’ve come up with an idea for a product called the Shower Buddy, which, near as I can determine, all it does differently from a regular shower head is also squirt shampoo on you along with the water. The miracles of the modern age!

Still, it does well enough that they launch their company, rent a warehouse, buy some equipment and start hiring employees. There’s a modestly funny montage of them conducting job interviews, with the joke being that they hire absolutely everyone, including the scary ex-con and the woman who can’t speak English.

At first, I thought this would be a deliciously sly bit of satire in which the upstarts themselves turn into the horrible bosses, and another set of underlings decide to kill them, leading to more recriminations and hijinks. Alas, no, it quickly devolves into an unfunny retread of the last movie, but instead of attempted murder they kidnap somebody for ransom.

The heavy here is Christoph Waltz as the magnate of a home products retailer, who agrees to carry the Shower Buddy but then reneges at the last minute, threatening to toss the boys into financial ruin. To get back at him and retrieve their money, they resolve to kidnap the jerk’s even jerkier son, played by Chris Pine. But the kid has a better idea: cut him in on the scam, and they don’t even have to go through with the actual kidnapping.

The lead actors all play familiar versions of their star personas. Bateman is Nick, the careful, slightly repressed one; Day is Dale, the nervous nebbish who now has a wife and triplet baby daughters; Sudeikis is Kurt, the resident horndog because, well, every comedy ensemble needs one.

Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx all return for cameos of their characters from the original movie, respectively: sadistic boss, now behind bars; sex-addicted dentist, still addicted to sex; and criminal consigliore who’s a lot less badass than he lets on.

Aniston was the MVP of the last movie, and proves so again here. Maybe it’s because she’s largely played sweethearts that the notion of her as a lecherous pervert is especially zingy, but in any case she scores the most laughs with her naughty banter.

The jokes come fast, fast, fast and mostly miss, miss, miss. The script seems barely polished above the level of ad-lib, and largely consists of a bunch of scenes of the crew popping off and cracking on each other.

I’m still a little fuzzy about who exactly the horrible bosses of “Horrible Bosses 2” are supposed to be – the Waltz character may be a tool but he’s not their boss, just a backstabbing customer. Of course, “Horrible Vendor-Client Relationships” doesn’t have quite the same ring.

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