Horrible Bosses was such a runaway success in 2011, I’m sure no one needed much arm twisting to okay the sequel.
But even if it didn’t seem such a financial slam dunk, you could make a pretty compelling argument for a second outing just to keep this core cast together. They may not get you with every joke, but Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day are such a perfect fit for each other they’re bound to win you over eventually. They’re the big reason why Horrible Bosses 2 is a sequel that works.
Since we last saw them, Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) have all quit their jobs and started a company selling Dale’s invention the “Shower Buddy,” a sort of car wash for your body as he puts it.
They’re their own bosses finally, and they’re intent on keeping it that way. So when they’re made an offer on their invention by Rex Hanson (Chris Pine), the son of billionaire Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), they turn it down and enter into a business arrangement with the two instead. The guys will manufacture the product and the Hanson’s will sell it for them.
As you might expect, things don’t go exactly as planned. Burt backs out of the deal leaving the guys with a mountain of debt. To raise the funds necessary to save the company they concoct another one of their criminal plots, this time to kidnap Rex and extort Burt for his ransom.
To be honest, the ins and outs of the plot– which at times feels like a rehash of an old Simpsons episode (what doesn’t though, am I right?)– aren’t particularly important. There’s nothing too outrageous as to be distracting, and what’s left provides an ample enough springboard for these three characters to hit their marks.
Sudeikis and Day were born to riff off each other. I wouldn’t be surprised if each had half a medallion around their neck, given to them at birth by some comedy savant doctor with immaculate foresight, that fit together perfectly the first time they did a scene together. The scenario doesn’t matter, as the bickering between these two almost always adds laughs.
Bateman, on the other hand, gets a bit singled out as the straight man of the group. In the early going there were times it almost felt like it was more his movie than an ensemble piece, mainly because he’s the one tasked with keeping the train on the tracks plotwise. But that’s not meant to be derogatory– Bateman is so damn funny in what is usually a thankless, laughless role that his Nick really seems to complete the other two idiots beside him.
That’s not to say that Horrible Bosses 2 doesn’t have its lulls. The movie certainly takes its time getting into the action. In the early going especially it seemed intent on revisiting every bit player from the first film, as if it were checking them off a list.
Likewise, there are a few jokes here and there that felt off colour at best. The script has a way of skirting the line–Jennifer Aniston’s oversexed Julia probably being the worst offender–in a way that left me feeling a tad uncomfortable every now and then.
But that edginess is also what keeps the movie fresh, and by the end almost every returning character, from Julia to Jamie Foxx’s Not-So-Safe-For-Print Jones, earns their screen time with a great gag or two.
Like its predecessor, the thing that makes Horrible Bosses 2 so special is its ability to elicit the big laughs. The bits that are so funny you find yourself chuckling about them all over again on the car ride home.
Call it a great cast. A great script. Whatever you want. You’ll be hard pressed not to smile at least a little bit at this sequel.
Final Score: 4/5