In this pumped-up sequel to the 2011 hit, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have sidestepped the problem of dealing with horrible bosses by becoming their own bosses and launching a product called the Shower Buddy. As the device becomes an overnight success, the trio finally seems poised to grasp fame and fortune – until they’re conned out of their business by slick investor Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his sneering son (Chris Pine). Infuriated and facing financial run, the three devise a harebrained plot to kidnap the son and hold him for ransom. This being Nick, Kurt and Dale, absolutely nothing goes according to plan, and they end up in way over their heads.
Yet, once all the parts are successfully set into motion, there’s a certain amount of fun to be had with “Horrible Bosses 2.” Bateman, Sudeikis and Day share a fizzy, feel-good chemistry that carries the movie through its weakest plot points, and director Sean Anders (taking over from Seth Green) displays a visual elan that’s at once unexpected and refreshing.
The movie’s real secret weapon, though, is Pine, as the alternately crazed and charismatic Rex. Someone in Hollywood needs to pay attention and stop casting this guy as dashing, pretty-boy heroes – between this and “Stretch” (side note: go see “Stretch” right now), Pine has proven that he’s much better at playing deranged psychopaths.
As for the humor itself, “Horrible Bosses 2” is as scattershot as its predecessor if not more so. Some lines fall completely flat and others land right on target, but if you found the last film to be entertaining, “Horrible Bosses 2” is certainly good for a few big laughs (especially once Jennifer Aniston, again playing randy dentist Julia, shows up to steal the spotlight for a few scenes). Just be prepared to cringe in equal measure.
Most of “Horrible Bosses 2”’s momentum comes from its heightening of the ingredients that made the first film such a winning concoction. The raunch, the action, the absurd twists – all of it is kicked up a few notches, and the resulting off-the-charts energy works to the film’s benefit. Does that make “Horrible Bosses 2” a better film than its predecessor? Not at all, though there will be those who argue that. This sequel is messier, dumber and seldom delivers punchlines with as much potency.
Still, that “Horrible Bosses 2” isn’t a total train-wreck is a pleasant surprise. Yes, it’s vulgar, inane drivel; but it’s vulgar, inane drivel made by talented people who can spin narrative muck into undemanding entertainment blindfolded. Much of “Horrible Bosses 2,” unsteadily plotted though it is, coasts on the charms of its cast and polished direction. It’s just a pity that the writers never aimed to do more than just that.