Movie Review: Horrible Bosses 2

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Three guys who once had horrible bosses go into business for themselves, but find themselves once again at the mercy of a horrible boss.

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Sean Anders, 2014

Having invented a device that makes showering easier, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day) form a company of their own and start looking for someone to invest in their product. They are contacted by Rex Hanson (Chris Pine), a rich playboy who uses his father’s office to give the boys an offer. Unfortunately for Rex and our trio of, er, heroes, his father Bert (Christolph Waltz) walks in and changes the offer: he will pay for an order of the Shower Buddies and distribute them in his stores. He then screws Nick, Kurt & Dale over, threatening to ruin them and their company. Faced with financial ruin, the trio make a plan to kidnap Rex for ransom. Being incompetent at crime (and, you know, pretty much everything really), the boys immediately run into problems, and get more than they bargained for in their hostage.

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Contrary to the popular narrative, I found Horrible Bosses 2 much, much more enjoyable than the first film. Structurally it’s much tighter, with a more traditional structure that moves the film along at a better pace. And, although Jennifer Aniston’s dreadful dentist makes a repeat appearance, there are far fewer rape jokes. It’s still pretty awful when it happens, and they still put a damper my enjoyment of the rest of the movie. On the other hand, Keegan-Michael Key shows up early to call out casual racism in the movie, so that’s more fun. I laughed a lot more often this time around, starting with the opening scene, in which the trio awkwardly show off their new invention. The characters are more clearly defined this time around, and the film is more focused on everyone’s flaws and less focused on everyone picking on Dale. The best humour still comes out of the chemistry between the leads and their bantering, a lesson clearly learned from the first film. The involvement of Chris Pine brings a new catalyst to the chemistry of the group.

Pine puts in a charming and manic performance as the unpredictable Rex, ably supported by the always talented Christolph Waltz, who makes a smile cut like a knife. The movie also builds to a more impressive car chase climax, which blends humour and thrills. There is significantly more money this time around (and less obvious product placement), so the film looks better, too. Of course, it’s still far from perfect. The characters continue to do ridiculously stupid things in order to progress the plot, which can become frustrating – everything is so engineered that it rarely feels organic to the characters. Jason Bateman gets landed with a pretty humourless role for a long time, which is unfair and doesn’t give him as many opportunities to cut loose as the other two boys. Once again, the highlight is the gag reel, which demonstrates the connection between the actors better than the scripted movie. But it’s a damn sight better than the first horrific film, which was offensive on almost every level.

Horrible Bosses 2 on IMDb

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