The moment they announced “Horrible Bosses 2” was a thing I scratched my head. I loved the first film, it remains one of my favorite comedies of all-time, but it just didn’t have substance to warrant a sequel. Then director Seth Gordon said he wouldn’t be returning and he was replaced with Sean Anders. All these were red flags but I held up hope that the returning cast would make this sequel work.
“Horrible Bosses 2” follows Nick, Kurt and Dale (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) after they have quit their jobs and started their own business with their invention, The Shower Buddy. When they are scammed by an investor and his son (Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine), they decide their only course of action is to kidnap the son and hold him for ransom (because, duh).
I don’t really know where to start with this film, because it really is disappointing. Comedy sequels are rarely as good as the original (“22 Jump Street” excluded), but I expected “Horrible Bosses 2” to at least have the same tone as the first film. The writers of the original film, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, wrote a draft for this film but when Anders took over as director he and his writing partner John Morris reworked the script (the duo helped on the scripts of the scattershot but very funny “We’re the Millers” and “Hot Tub Time Machine”). Some of the first film’s bite and self-awareness still remain, but most of the jokes now are nothing more than poop and sex gags, which are Anders’ trademark.
The movie is paced in a way that just doesn’t work. It takes a full hour before the trio even discusses the kidnapping scheme, or at least it felt like that. This clearly was not an idea that could carry an entire film, so it was stretched by having an entire subplot involving Jennifer Aniston’s sex-crazed dentist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Jennifer Aniston, but when she starts to fantasize about 14-year-old boys at wrestling camp, you lost me.
Bateman, Day and Sudeikis (whom I love and believe is very underrated) all still have fun chemistry and give and take among each other, and Electro himself Jamie Foxx is back as Dean MF Jones, but they can’t save this sinking ship.
Christoph Waltz is criminally underused as the film’s antagonist (pun intended?), but there’s still something about seeing Hans Landa play a ruthless business man that put a smirk on my face. Pine seems to be having a blast as the spoiled son, who partners up with the trio in the hostage plan to get back at his dad. Kevin Spacey also returns for a few minutes as Dave Harken, but in the end that only made me miss the first film even more.
In retrospect, expectations for “Horrible Bosses 2” shouldn’t have been high, as they put “horrible” right in the title, alongside the number two, which is all this film is: poop.
There is a saving grace towards the end of the film with a few twists and an interestingly executed hostage plan, but that saving grace comes in the form of a bullet to the head, saving my soul from this unjustified, heart-crushing sequel.
Critics Rating: 4/10