×

Film Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2’

A thoroughly unnecessary sequel that nonetheless sometimes turns its sheer stupidity and nastiness into a virtue.

With:
Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, Jonathan Banks, Lindsay Sloane.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2170439/?ref_=nm_flmg_wr_1

At the risk of suggesting that “Horrible Bosses 2” has a compelling reason to exist, it’s worth noting that the movie does function, on one level, as an anti-capitalist revenge fantasy aimed at the excesses of the One Percent. Mainly, however, this inane and incredibly tasteless sequel qualifies as an excuse to bring back those hard-working funnymen Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis for another round of amateur-criminal hijinks and semi-improvised vulgarity, jabbing away repeatedly at some elusive comic sweet spot where blatant nastiness and egregious stupidity collide — and very occasionally hitting the mark. Warners’ Thanksgiving-weekend release should rack up solid numbers in line with its 2011 predecessor’s $117 million domestic haul; if you laughed at the word “rack,” you should get in line now.

Predicated on a sentiment best articulated by Homer Simpson (“Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream?”), the Seth Gordon-directed “Horrible Bosses” was a sloppily entertaining action-comedy that ended with sensible Nick (Bateman), horny Kurt (Sudeikis) and anxiety-prone Dale (Day) successfully escaping the clutches of their awful employers, even if their planned triple homicide didn’t entirely come off. In the new movie, helmed by Sean Anders from a script he wrote with John Morris, our heroes have liberated themselves from their day-job drudgery and formed their own company, centered around a home-ablution aid called the Shower Buddy.

After trying to publicize their new invention, during which they manage to drop a racist epithet and an onanistic sight gag on live TV, they realize they need a wealthy investor to help them manufacture and distribute their product. Enter Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), the smarmy CEO of a retail giant, who offers to bankroll their first 100,000 units for a cool $3 million, which they happily accept — only to find themselves royally screwed over when Hanson reneges on their deal, determined to put them out of business and then buy up what remains at super-low auction prices.

With no legal recourse, Nick, Kurt and Dale decide to kidnap Hanson’s handsome, preening son, Rex (Chris Pine), and demand a $500,000 ransom. Naturally, their criminal instincts prove no sharper than their business sense, prompting a return visit to the seedy bar where their old friend Dean “Motherfucker” Jones (an endearing Jamie Foxx) gives them advice on how to be all disreputable and shit. They also stop by the local prison to get tips from Nick’s former horrible boss — or rather, his still-horrible former boss, happily played once again by Kevin Spacey, snarling as only Kevin Spacey can. Various complications, double-crosses and chase sequences ensue, as well as one genuinely startling act of violence. Kidnapping Rex turns out to be more of a handful than anyone anticipated, and Pine’s energetic turn as a billionaire playboy with some serious daddy issues gives the proceedings an unexpected shot of adrenaline.

In the most appalling subplot — the one so thoroughly unnecessary that it winds up feeling almost essential — our heroes once again find themselves tangling with Dale’s ex-superior, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston, game as ever), a sexually rapacious dentist who has no qualms about drilling anyone in her path. (There is clearly something about oral hygiene that excites and inspires the makers of this franchise; this isn’t the first “Horrible Bosses” movie where we’ve seen a character introduce a toothbrush into their nether-regions.) In an extra-kinky twist, the plot requires Nick to join Julia’s sex-addiction support group, although needless to say, she hasn’t reformed a whit.

It’s not only the 12-step recovery process that comes under attack here. In various capacities, Anders and Morris have worked on “We’re the Millers,” “That’s My Boy,” “Hot Tub Time Machine” and the forthcoming “Dumb and Dumber To,” and so it should surprise no one that “Horrible Bosses 2” is an equal-opportunity comic offender, aiming cheerful if half-hearted jabs at Hispanic women, Asian women, women in general, gay men and ethical business practices, all the while insulting every conventional notion of plausibility, common sense and good taste. In the end, the movie reserves most of its abuse for its three top-billed stooges, which gives it a redundancy that might also be called integrity, or at least brand consistency. As in the first pic, the actors seem to be riffing as much as reciting, their antic verbal and physical energy (modulated by Eric Kissack’s editing) offsetting the absence of visual wit in this grubby, cobbled-together production.

Once more, Bateman plays the sensible, put-upon leader of the group, though Nick’s R-rated shenanigans with Julia allow him to cut loose for a change, getting more action than Sudeikis’ swaggering horndog. The wild card this time is Day, who seems to have imbibed helium in between takes, pushing his hyper-neurotic-human-chipmunk routine to often excruciating extremes. There are times when you may wish he’d tone it down, but toning it down would probably have been antithetical to the spirit of the whole enterprise, reducing “Horrible Bosses 2” to the level of forgettable mediocrity rather than the memorable, even indelible awfulness to which it cheerfully and sometimes successfully aspires.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2’

Reviewed at Landmark's Regent Theatre, Los Angeles, Nov. 8, 2014. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 108 MIN.

Production: A Warner Bros. release of a New Line Cinema presentation in association with RatPac-Dune Entertainment of a RatPac Entertainment/Benderspink production. Produced by Brett Ratner, Jay Stern, Chris Bender, John Rickard, John Morris. Executive producers, Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Michael Disco, Samuel J. Brown, John Cheng, Diana Pokorny.

Crew: Directed by Sean Anders. Screenplay, Anders, John Morris; story, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Anders, John Morris, based on characters created by Michael Markowitz. Camera (color, widescreen), Julio Macat; editor, Eric Kissack; music, Christopher Lennertz; music supervisors, Dave Jordan, Jojo Villanueva; production designer, Clayton Hartley; art director, Christa Munro; set designer, Lorrie Campbell; set decorator, Jan Pascale; costume designer, Carol Ramsey; sound (Dolby Digital/Datasat), Robert Sharman; supervising sound editors, Elmo Weber, Andrew De Cristofaro; re-recording mixers, Weber, Brad Sherman; visual effects supervisor, Bruce Jones; visual effects, Hollywood Visual Effects, Hammerhead Prods.; special effects supervisor, Jeremy D. Hays; stunt coordinator, Thomas Robinson Harper; assistant directors, Mary Ellen Woods, Jonathan McGarry; second unit director, Todd Hallowell; casting, Rachel Tenner.

With: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, Jonathan Banks, Lindsay Sloane.

More Film

  • Our Mothers Review

    Oscars: Belgium Sends Cannes Prizewinner 'Our Mothers' to International Feature Film Race

    Belgian-Guatemalan director Cesar Diaz’s feature debut, “Our Mothers,” will represent Belgium in the International Feature Film category at the Oscars. Represented in international markets by Pyramide, “Our Mothers” world premiered at Cannes’ Critics Week and won the Golden Camera for best first film. “Our Mothers” is set in today’s Guatemala, a country riveted by the [...]

  • La vaca "The Cow"

    Alfredo Castro, Mia Maestro, Leonor Varela Cast in Francisca Alegria’s Debut (EXCLUSIVE)

    SANTIAGO, Chile  —  The much anticipated feature debut of Chilean Francisca Alegria, renowned for her magical short “And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye,” has firmed up its cast and shooting dates. Argentine thesp Mia Maestro (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”), Chile’s Leonor Varela (“Dallas,” “Blade 2”), Alfredo Castro (“From Afar,” “Museum”) [...]

  • 210819 Distribusjonsseminar DNF

    Haugesund: Nordic Distribution Panel Analyzes Recent Success Story 'Queen of Hearts'

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  On Wednesday morning, shortly before this year’s New Nordic Films Works in Progress screening was due to begin, a handful of industry veterans sat for a panel that picked up right where last year’s WIP program left off. Presented in collaboration with Europa Distribution, the panel – called “The Value Chain: A [...]

  • L-R Dena Kaplan, Ronny Chieng, Josh

    Rafe Spall Leads Cast of Oscar Nominated Josh Lawson's 'Long Story Short'

    Rafe Spall, whose credits include “The Big Short” and “Shaun of the Dead,” leads the cast of romantic comedy “Long Story Short.” Studiocanal will handle worldwide sales on the film, which starts to shoot on Monday in Sydney, Australia. The movie is written and directed by Josh Lawson, who was Oscar nominated last year for [...]

  • Metro 2033

    Cult Sci-Fi Novel 'Metro 2033' to Be Adapted as Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    Russia’s TNT-Premier Studios Company, TV-3 Channel and Central Partnership Film Company – all part of Gazprom Media – have come together to produce a movie based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s sci-fi novel “Metro 2033,” which has also been adapted as a video game. Filming is due to start next year. The Russian premiere of the movie [...]

  • Beforeigners

    'Beforeigners'' Anne Bjornstad on HBO's First Norwegian Original Series

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  HBO Europe’s first Norwegian original series, which debuted Aug. 21 exclusively across HBO’s territories, has garnered rave reviews in the Norwegian press. It is also a perfect fit for HBO’s brand and goal to create bold, smart and author-driven shows. Produced by Endemol Shine’s Norwegian prodco Rubicon TV, “Beforeigners” is helmed by [...]

  • Refugees from the besieged Muslim enclave

    Sarajevo’s True Stories Market: Documenting the Atrocities of War

    Reconciliation and dealing with the tragedies of the Yugoslav Wars has been a major focus of the Sarajevo Film Festival and its CineLink Industry Days event in recent years. The True Stories Market, launched in 2016, aims to connect filmmakers with organizations that are researching and documenting the Yugoslav Wars that spanned 1991 to 2001 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content