Review: Horrible Bosses 2

Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day & Jennifer Aniston

Directed by: Sean Anders

(Warner Bros.)

The 2011 comedy “Horrible Bosses” was not a great film by any stretch of the imagination but it found an audience because of a simple, yet rather underutilized, story line; namely that a lot of workers have bosses who are either unappreciative or are bullies. The only film that I can recall where that was a central theme was the 1980 Dolly Parton vehicle, “9 To 5.”

Whereas “9 To 5″ was a smart comedy, “Horrible Bosses” was pure slapstick where three buddies who are being humiliated at work plot to kill their respective bosses. It was more “Three Stooges” than it was “The Sopranos.”

Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day) are back with another caper in “Horrible Bosses 2.” The guys have developed a product called “Shower Buddy” and they are looking to be entrepreneurs instead of employees. An appearance on a local LA morning TV show draws the attention of a major appliance distributor who offers them a deal that sounds too good to be true.

As is generally the case, it was indeed to good to be true and the distribution company executives, the father and son team of Bert (Christoph Waltz) and Rex Hanson (Chris Pine), snooker the guys by using a bridge loan to steal their product out from them legally. The idea of bringing in lawyers and CPAs to look over any contract is apparently an alien one to our heroes.

Be it as it may, Nick, Kurt, and Dale are down but not out. They come up with the idea of kidnaping the odiously spoiled Rex, who flaunts his wealth in the faces of everyone he meets, in exchange for a princely ransom from his father. Predictably Murphy’s Law kicks in and everything that can go wrong, does. One unforeseen complication is that Rex has his own reasons to extract money from his dad and winds up commandeering things from the guys.

“Horrible Bosses 2″ is not horrible but the film makers are lazy as is frequently the case with a comedy sequel. Jokes run on far too long such as one about gay oral sex in the first scene as well as the obligatory finale chase scenes through the streets of downtown Los Angeles . Director Sean Anders, who also doubles as a screenwriter, lets his cast have fun by allowing them to ad-lib to their heart’s content.

The best thing about the film is its talented and game cast. Jason Bateman once again plays the straight-arrow in a comedy who has to do numerous slow-burns being the voice of reason. Jason Sudeikis, as was often the case when he was a key cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” plays a clueless but confident and upbeat character. The only weak lead is Charlie Day who is a poor man’s Bobcat Goldthwait playing the “Nervous Nellie” here.

The supporting cast is even better than the leads. Kevin Spacey returns in a cameo as the ultimate emasculating boss who makes Alec Baldwin’s tough-guy character from “Glengarry Glen Ross” look like a wimp in comparison. Chris Pine delivers as a handsome sociopath. Jennifer Aniston once again steals the film as a sex-obsessed dentist whose salty language about her proclivities would make a longshoreman blush. Say what you will about Aniston’s box office failures as an actress; she certainly has courage playing a role that is the antithesis of her iconic Rachel Green character from the old “Friends” TV series.

“Horrible Bosses 2″ is a harmless under two-hour film but I would wait until it comes out on DVD or when it makes it to premium cable. It’s not worth today’s high movie theater ticket prices.

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