Review: Horrible Bosses 2 Is Horribly Forgettable
Title: Horrible Bosses 2
Director: Sean Anders
Screenwriter: Sean Anders (screenplay), John Morris (screenplay), Jonathan M. Goldstein (story), John Francis Daley (story), Sean Anders, John Morris (story), and Michael Markowitz (characters)
Principal Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine, and Christoph Waltz
I have a very specific sense of humor. This might stem from the fact that I work the graveyard shift and something else to do with a love affinity with play on words and puns. That doesn’t mean I don’t find humor that can be considered crude or dumb funny, it’s just that nine times out of ten I tend not to fall into that particular market. I can’t remember anything that happened in the first Horrible Bosses movie, only that they were trying to make it seem very funny that Jennifer Aniston got most of the cruder lines. However, I wasn’t expecting much from the sequel.
Aside from the occasional rape joke Horrible Bosses 2 is only notable with how forgettable it is.
Our story picks up not long after the first movie where Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) all tried to kill their bosses in a very Strangers on a Train fashion. They want to be their own bosses now, so they try to find investors for their new shower head product. Rex Hansen (Chris Pine) and his Father Bert Hansen (Christopher Walken) order 100,000 units only to back out at the last second, with the plan to let the company fall into bankruptcy and buy everything cheap. Nick, Kurt, and Dale decide that the best way to deal with the $500,000 they are in the hole for is to kidnap Rex and ransom him to his Father, but they are about as good at kidnapping as they are a murder, which is not very good.
Allow me to start off by saying that I understand that some people don’t consider any topic taboo when it comes to R rated comedies. I also understand that distance is the best way to make something terrible funny, i.e. the saying by Mel Brooks: ‘Tragedy is when I stub my toe. Comedy is when you fall down an open manhole and die’ applies. However, that being said, I do not like movies that make rape jokes. Someone else might not mind or even find it funny, which is your prerogative and that’s fine, but I personally have a problem with rape jokes. One of the subplots that comes to light in the third act is Jennifer Aniston’s character Julia, and how she is obsessed with having sex with Dale. At one point she blackmails him into having sex with her, despite the fact that he is married with three kids. There is an implication at the end involving them that I really did not like. There are a lot of problematic things that stem from this movie, but if I get into details this is going to turn into an essay about consent, gender, and no one wants to read that.
The dynamic between the three leads is supposed to be the thing that holds this movie together, and I suppose that chemistry exists in some way. They constantly argue with Nick, who is supposed to be the “straight one”, that is a buzz kill while Kurt is a horn dog and Dale just wants to support his family while acting like a nervous buffoon. I don’t want to say any of them are likable because none of them really are. They are all terrible people for various different reasons, and all of their terrible quirks are supposed to be ignored for the humor. Some screenwriters can pull it off but the screenplay by writer/director Sean Anders and John Morris (plus three other people) is too reliant on shock and swearing. Perhaps it’s just me but swearing isn’t very funny to me after the first few times in a movie, and trying to shock someone with something crude really only works once.
That is really the problem that causes Horrible Bosses 2 to fall apart completely; it doesn’t understand when a joke stops being funny. There is a scene toward the beginning where it looks like Dale is jerking Kurt off when it’s really just a misunderstanding and strange framing. The scene was funny, at first, but then it went on too long. It’s like someone told a really good joke and then the ba dum psh sound effect came about thirty seconds later, or if you’re making a comeback to someone after the conversation has moved on. Comedy is all about timing and Horrible Bosses 2 doesn’t seem to understand that. There isn’t a joke here that doesn’t go on too long or gets overdone.
The acting is about what you can expect from a movie like this. Charlie Day was the highlight for me, but his ‘thing’ about being “the dumb one” got old very quickly. Jason Bateman is funny in the same way that he’s funny in all of the movies he’s in; he’s the straight man with the look of exasperation about those around him. He acts like he’s somehow above this idiocy, but then does idiot things himself. Jason Sudeikis is the one that didn’t really work for me. I just didn’t buy him as the ladies man of the group. Chris Pine continues to have so little charisma that it doesn’t even register. I understand that he has the looks of a leading man, but we really need to move on from him. He just doesn’t have the personality or charisma to back it up, to truly become the headliner they want him to be.
If you’re going to see Christoph Waltz or Jamie Foxx, they have cameos at best and maybe a total of twenty minutes of screen time between the two of them. Kevin Spacey has one joke that goes on way too long for his five minutes of screen time. Jennifer Aniston is also barely in the movie. I have a hard time separating Jennifer Aniston’s characters from herself, and Julia isn’t any different. It just looked like Jennifer Aniston saying lewd things. Her character is funny only in the sense if you think a woman saying dirty things is funny.
Horrible Bosses 2 is completely forgettable and will soon be a footnote in the careers of most of the cast. If you liked the first one just watch it again and wait for this one to come out on Netflix.