Horrible Bosses 2 improves on the original
The original was so-so, but the new kidnapping caper plot in ‘Horrible Bosses 2,’ and an entertainingly manic performance from Chris Pine, make this a better movie.
It doesn’t seem like it’s been three years since the original Horrible Bosses hit the big screen, but it has. In my original review, I enjoyed the cast but hated the script which forwent logic for stupid jokes. The film certainly was popular enough, though, to earn the sequel treatment and here we are with Horrible Bosses 2.
Most of the original cast has returned – minus Colin Farrell – even if they had to figure out a way to shoehorn Kevin Spacey into the plot (since his character went to jail in the first one). New additions to the cast, Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz, add some weight to the film and new director and writer Sean Anders (and his co-writers) have come up with a plot that is silly but at least follows some logical throughline.
In Horrible Bosses 2, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have moved on from their regular day jobs to invent a gizmo, the inappropriately named Shower Buddy (“It’s like having a buddy in the shower”), a contraption that works like a car wash wand, dispensing shampoo and soap automatically while the shower runs. Looking for investors, they appear on a local morning TV show (featuring a pretty hilarious demonstration) and next thing they know they’re getting a call from a giant catalog retailer. The owner’s son, Rex Hanson (Pine), oversteps his bounds by making an offer, so dad (Waltz) steps in and makes the guys a real offer. They take it, manufacture and deliver the product only to find out the deal has been canceled with their loan coming due, setting up the perfect storm of a takeover and the fight to save the business.
It’s this plot twist that makes Horrible Bosses 2 much more interesting than the first one because now Nick, Kurt and Dale find themselves the title characters, because of their failures at business, battling a ruthless businessman who is even more horrible than their three previous bosses. They figure the only way to get back at Hanson is to kidnap his son … except they don’t expect Rex to be willing to play along because of his own deep-seated hatred for his father who values money over blood. The guys, of course, prove themselves as inept at kidnapping as they were at murder, so Rex has to take the reins on his own kidnapping. But the question lingers around the situation: are Kurt, Nick and Dale still being played by the Hansons?
I enjoyed the whole caper aspect of this film with the kidnapping and all of the double-crosses. You sometimes need a scorecard to keep track of who’s screwing who, but at least the story keeps you on your toes. The returning cast all fit into their roles comfortably, adding little twists for Jennifer Aniston’s sex addict dentist and Spacey’s jailbird. Waltz doesn’t have a lot to do but he brings some good mustache-twirling villainy to his role. Pine is the standout, playing the gamut of emotions from sleazy corporate douchebag to emotionally damaged child. His character really becomes the center around which the rest of the story revolves and Pine’s performance, along with the much better script, makes Horrible Bosses 2 a better film on many levels.
What also helps this time around is that you actually feel some sympathy for Nick, Kurt and Dale who are doing what they can to make an honest living but get totally screwed in the process. This time out, it is a singular David vs Goliath story. A film can be much more successful when you can actually root for the main characters, something you had a hard time doing in the first film. I still didn’t laugh as much as I had hoped to, but I did find myself enjoying the film more than the original (and the outtakes during the credits are worth staying for). At least it wasn’t a total retread of the first film like The Hangover Part II was of its original. But, let’s not feel the need to stretch this out to a trilogy.