********* 5 out of 10 *********
Director: Sean Anders
Actors: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Chris Pine
In the summer of 2011, the black comedy film Horrible Bosses, built on an outrageous premise of three friends planning on killing their respective abusive bosses, turned out to be a massive financial success that not even the studios could have predicted. The movie earned close to $210 million worldwide in its theatrical run, much above its modest production budget of $35 million. And so we have Horrible Bosses 2 now, as if not making a sequel to a successful movie is a cardinal sin. In some cases I wish that making a sequel would rather be treated as an offence! If that case, the filmmakers of Horrible Bosses 2 would certainly have had a lot of complaints to fight against. This is the classic case of a desperate sequel, with a story splashed together, maybe along with a round of beer, hoping to bank on the success of the first movie and not working hard enough to make it run on its own merit. If not for a wonderful acting cast, there would have been little good to talk about in Horrible Bosses 2.
The movie’s plot goes something like this. After their exploits in the first film, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), decide to launch their own business. Things seem to be looking up when a savvy businessman Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz) decides to make a big purchase of the trio’s product. But Hanson’s intentions are something else, and when the trio’s business seems to be heading for an early closure, they conjure a criminal plan, the kidnapping of Hanson’s son, Rex (Chris Pine). Well, the plan will of course not go ahead as planned, and the trio are about to get involved in something crazier than they had imagined.
The movie firstly has little to do with horrible bosses this time, and so little to do with its title. The story by John Morris and Sean Anders, both of whom were not involved with the first movie, is a bit too straightforward and lacks the freshness that made the 2011 film so much entertaining. Director Sean Anders, who took over from Seth Gordon for this sequel, seems to play things too safe, carrying the story forward a bit too neatly with limited eccentricities that would otherwise feel at home in an R-rated comedy. Any comedy movie though would eventually be judged on the quality of its jokes, the amount of laughter it can evoke from the audience, and therein Horrible Bosses 2 is way behind its predecessor. Some jokes fall completely flat, and for elongated periods you may go without even a grin. The movie has its humorous moments though, especially as the movie inches towards the end, though you would have expected the craziness in the movie to be dialed up a notch or two.
The movie’s strength lies in its wide and talented acting cast, and their efforts alone keeps the interest in the movie alive till the end. The chemistry between Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, is as delightful as it was in the first movie. Jason Bateman is the calmest of the three, Charlie Day is the weirdest, and Jason Sudeikis lies somewhere in the middle, and this mix gives the group the right kind of balance. The movie could have explored the characters a bit more though, and that is where it falls short. Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine as the father-son duo are the new additions to the film. Christoph Waltz’s acting skill set is not fully utilised in the movie, and I wonder if apart from Quentin Tarantino, anyone else has really managed that. Chris Pine on the other hand is wonderful in his character, showcasing a wide range of emotions, and bringing much required energy into the movie. Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston reprise their old roles, and even though their appearances are briefer in the sequel, they bring back the connection with the original film and add some new angles and twists to an otherwise drab tale. A final word has to be reserved for Jamie Foxx as “Motherfucker” Jones, who is as funny a character in the sequel as he was in the original, and brings out probably the loudest laughs in the movie. Whenever the studio executives sit down to discuss on the future of this franchise, they would hopefully consider the merits of a spin-off movie on “Motherfucker” Jones with Jamie Foxx leading the way. If not, at least do not go for a Horrible Bosses 3!