Director: Sean Anders
Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz
Rating: Two stars
Comedy is one of the toughest genres to pull off. It is so easy to sound contrived and so very difficult to appeal to a spectrum of people with wit. If that was bad enough, making a sequel to a successful comedy film is just doubly harder. But Horrible Bosses in its first outing itself was a barely bearable film. It had its moment no doubt — largely involving Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and the irreverent Colin Farrell in an almost unrecognisable role — but it wasn’t some comedic genius. So the news of the sequel itself was hardly exciting yet one hoped that the film would be worth a watch.
Like in the first film, Horrible Bosses 2 centres around the bumbling trio of Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day). They’ve moved on from trying to bump off each other’s obnoxious and terrible bosses to putting together a venture of their own. Their success is short-lived when they find that millionaire investor Burt Hanson (Waltz) has sabotaged their innovative plan along with his son Rex (Pine). The trio decide that the best way to stick it to Hanson would be to kidnap Rex for a princely ransom. To their surprise, Rex is more than willing to be kidnapped by them and participate in any scheme that is related to this. Of course before you could even realise it, Rex has added his own fiendish strategy to their plans and as was the case with the sequel, one straightforward plan is rendered awry.
There’s a lot of talking in the film. A LOT. There are times when one can barely hear Bateman, an actor who actually employs remarkable restraint and aces at conveying emotions through his eyes. Sudeikis actually has some of the better lines and with Dale, who is clearly the pick of the bumblers, the banter is effortless and goes to show the great chemistry the lead actors share. Sadly, that is also one of the downfalls of the film. It seems like the director — Anders, taking over the reigns from Seth Gordon — thought it would be enough to rely on the established chemistry of the recurring actors. Even Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Aniston who reprise their roles in the sequel seem to fall short of being convincing. Everyone seems to be hamming it up several notches and in parts the film is nothing but a big budget cacophony.
Granted there are a few good instances — one fantasy-like sequence is actually quite hilarious — and a few good lines. It really looks like the actors had a good time making the film. Unfortunately, barring a few stunted chuckles, there’s very little the audience can benefit from their off-screen camaraderie.