Just as 2011’s Horrible Bosses turned common work-related frustrations into a fitfully funny wish-fulfillment scenario on behalf of average Joes everywhere, Horrible Bosses 2 seizes upon the idea of being one’s own boss at any cost and downgrades the criminal deeds involved from premeditated murder to mere kidnapping.
No longer burdened by their previous employers, Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis), and Dale (Day) strike out on their own with a super-duper shower contraption. After producing enough units to satisfy the lucrative likes of Bert Hanson (Waltz), the trio is soon screwed out of the deal, and retaliate by holding for ransom Bert’s son, Rex (Pine), a victim more than willing to help pull one over on his overbearing pops.
Like the first film, Horrible Bosses 2 revels in crass slapstick and innuendo rather than foisting any measure of moral queasiness upon its audience, but when it comes to base-level laughs, the sequel delivers enough to sustain itself. Bateman remains the resigned straight man, Sudeikis the utter horndog, Day the energetic spaz, and their reliably manic chemistry is well-matched by Pine, a pretty face proving increasingly game for comic silliness between this and the recent Stretch.
Jamie Foxx returns as felon-turned-mentor Motherfucker Jones, as do the previously dastardly Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey (whose two-scene cameo practically duplicates Rob Riggle’s fleeting appearance in this summer’s 22 Jump Street), helping to maintain the illusion of consistency despite the switch in directors from Seth Gordon to Sean Anders (Sex Drive, That’s My Boy).
The humor ranges from situational gags to wordplay both clever and juvenile. Despite routine lapses into gay panic and the kind of dick-stroking shadowplay that was exhausted a decade ago by the Austin Powers franchise, there are strong laughs sprinkled throughout, culminating in an unexpectedly inspired climactic car chase. Horrible Bosses 2 works about as well as its predecessor, while similarly welshing on the premise’s potential for truly dark comedy. When considered in contrast to the anemic Dumb and Dumber To, though, it’s a more agreeably inane dose of shortsighted shenanigans.
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