Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

If Horrible Bosses didn’t offend you the first time around, fear not – there’s so much more in store. When we last left our sad sack employees Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day), they had just claimed victory over their decidedly horrible bosses, sadists and criminals all. Now helped by a sizable dose of misplaced confidence, the three are determined to be their own masters, hoping to make it big with an all-in-one showerhead they call the “Shower Buddy.”

Like many eager upstarts, they put too much faith in the first person willing to throw money at their venture, a person like Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz). A self-made man who admires their ingenuity and commitment to American manufacturing, he’s also a selfish, scheming swindler with a son to match. After he cheats the guys out of half a million dollars, they have no other recourse but to kidnap Bert’s son, Rex (Chris Pine), and recoup their losses with the ransom. Except of course they probably have plenty of other options that aren’t as harebrained or illegal. They seek advice from Nick’s former boss (Kevin Spacey), now showering abuse from behind bars, and freelance crime consultant Motherfuckah Jones (Jamie Foxx), who both encourage their nutty plan.

I wasn’t a great fan of the first movie, but I found a measure of satisfaction in watching the guys scheme against their miserable superiors, thus avenging wronged employees everywhere. That sense of the underdog gets lost in this film, buried beneath the pile of idiocy brought on by Kurt and Dale in particular. The two seem to have grown dimmer in the intervening years, and now without bad bosses to mask their bad behavior, their juvenile antics are laid bare for all to see. Their offenses range from simple stupidity (planning a break-in at Rex’s without actual planning) to criminal harassment (hiring workers based on sexual potential), and it’s easy to see why their former employers might go batty.

Bateman’s character, Nick, is the leavening force. The actor has an almost supernatural stoicism (see every other Bateman film), and Nick’s ability to tolerate and then clean up after his friends is both amusing and frustrating. You have to wonder about his calculus here. He’s essentially betting his future and fortune on an as-seen-on-TV product that he wants to mass produce with his knucklehead friends. At some point, he becomes complicit in this mess. Indeed, Nick has to rescue the other two when they get cornered while stealing a tank of nitrous oxide from Dale’s dentist ex-boss (a scene chewing Jennifer Aniston). He does so by posing as a new member of her sex addiction support group and ends the meeting early in order to, well, support her sex addiction.

Probably the freshest thing about this otherwise noisy, raunchy retread is Chris Pine’s appearance. He steals almost every scene that he’s in, even against Waltz in an underwritten role. Pine once again reveals himself to be more than a handsome frontman for flashy summer blockbusters. His willingness to be a total preening ass is something to behold. Rex is every bit the arrogant, entitled heir, but when he finds out his dad won’t pay the ransom, he acts both exactly as you’d expect and not at all. He puts up a good cry and then proceeds to out-crazy everyone with his own idea of criminal payback. I won’t say Pine’s performance redeems the movie, which is altogether too comfortable pushing the bar on the “it’s not racist/misogynistic because it’s funny” strain of humor, but it is oddly satisfying.

Released: 2014
Prod: Brett Ratner, Jay Stern, John Morris
Dir: Sean Anders
Writer: Sean Anders, John Morris
Cast: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jonathan Banks, Suzy Nakamura
Time: 108 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Reviewed: 2017