‘Horrible Bosses 2’ inane? Yes. Funny? Not so much.
Hands up everyone who thinks climate change is the biggest challenge to the survival of humanity as we know it. How about terrorism? War? Militarized police? The Tea Party? Corporate greed? All good choices, but I’d like to suggest a new front-runner to this list: movie comedy. In dangerous times like these, when we all need to keep our wits about us, along comes a movie like Horrible Bosses 2 that not only celebrates stupidity, it causes it. That pinging sound you hear is your brain cells actually dying off as this annoying tribute to idiocy plays out.
For those who came in late, the first Horrible Bosses, in 2011, centered on three working stiffs who hated their jobs. Unable to quit because of the economic downturn, they fantasized instead about murdering the bosses who were making their lives miserable. In this sequel, the wannabe criminal masterminds try to become bosses themselves with their own fledgling company, but wind up embroiled in a kidnapping plot. As the scenario wears on and on, the movie is by turns inane, vulgar, tedious and squirm-inducing. The only adjective that doesn’t spring immediately to mind is “funny.”
Helmed by incoming director Sean Anders, from a script he co-wrote with John Morris, the movie reintroduces us to slow-burning straight man, Nick (Jason Bateman), horndog Kirk (Jason Sudeikis), and hapless little Dale (Charlie Day), recently the father of triplets. Now unemployed, they’ve come up with a gadget called “Shower Buddy,” with which they hope to launch their own business.
In a sequence reminiscent of “Shark Tank,” they get the chance to pitch their idea to gazillionaire L.A. business mogul, Rex Hanson (Chris Pine), whose father, Bert (Christoph Waltz) presides over a global manufacturing empire. Before long, the Hansons have screwed them over royally, and our heroes are once again dreaming of revenge. Everything that could possibly go wrong with their half-baked plan does, of course, so that even these three stooges decide it’s not worth going through with it—until they find an unexpected ally in Rex, who is determined to be a pawn in a kidnapping plot to wrangle a few extra million in spending cash out of Daddy.
This wouldn’t be a terrible comedy plot, if it were handled with some clever writing and a few laughs. But most of the humor revolves around the main characters’ staggering ineptitude, their noisy hysteria, and their inability to spell—all of which the movie cheers on. The other main comedy plot point is sex—Nick isn’t getting enough (and drops his sensible demeanor the minute an opportunity arises), and Kirk can focus on nothing else. A scene at a sex-addiction support group meeting featuring Dale’s lascivious ex-boss, Julia (Jennifer Aniston), becomes an excuse to lob about some really sleazy dialogue. Lame? Yes. Funny? Not so much.
Kevin Spacey returns in a couple of scenes as Nick’s now-incarcerated ex-boss, spewing (well-deserved) invective at the trio’s intelligence and nerve, and Jamie Foxx pops up again as a street hustler who gives them pointers in crime. The participation of actors of this caliber suggests this is what passes for mainstream comedy these days, which is a fairly depressing thought. (It’s ironic when the co-conspirators in the film hold a “brainstorming” session, which implies that brains are involved.)
Bateman retains his likeability, even though we can’t understand what he’s doing hanging around with these other fools. And Pine, of all people, proves to be an impressively goofy physical clown; his Rex really gets into the idea of beating himself up to make the kidnapping look real, so I have to take back that remark about nothing being funny here. Pine earns the movie an extra half-star.
If you’ve already paid money to see this mess, you might as well stick around for the outtakes during the closing credits. This is where most of the movie’s few chuckles are located, such as they are. In one clip, when one actor speaks a line about smelling dog poop, his colleague ad-libs, “It’s your acting.” Nope, it’s the movie.
HORRIBLE BOSSES 2
*1/2 (out of four)
With Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, and Chris Pine. Written by Sean Anders and John Morris. Directed by Sean Anders. S Warner Bros release. Rated R. 108 minutes. PHOTO: Jason Sudeikis and Jason Bateman in ‘Horrible Bosses 2.