Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

RB Score:  5/10

How could this not have been good?

The loveable goofy trio from “Horrible Bosses” have figured out that by marketing their new invention, the “Shower Buddy”, they will be able to go into business for themselves and never, ever have a horrible boss again!  What we all dream of!  Having an awful boss is the day to day reality of people in America and probably around the world.  Hence, the premise of the original HB can’t help but strike a chord among vast audiences.   And if people can sympathize with the black-comedy premise that killing your boss is an acceptable solution, imagine the possibilities if the three “average guys” actually start their own business.  If anything, the sequel should have been able to connect with an even wider audience.  Alas, it isn’t all that good of a movie.  It made money at the box office so what do I know,  but unlike the original, in this sequel, the often offensive humor also often misses the mark.

As the movie opens, our three heroes, played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis and Charlie Day, are preparing to guest on a segment of “Good Morning America” to promote their exciting new invention.  The scene is quite well done in terms of the line delivery, the comic pacing, and the setting.  Unfortunately, this opening is also the movie’s apex in both comedy and creativity.    In the moments prior to going live, the guys are nervously chattering about what might be the best approach for this national TV appearance and at first, it sounds like a good idea to … just relax, and be themselves.  Cue Jason Bateman, who comments drily what a mistake that would be:  “No, ourselves is a dumpster fire.”  All agreed.  BE ANYONE BUT OURSELVES!!  Nice, nice intro.  It’s almost cruel actually, because it sets up an expectation that the rest of the movie will also be good, as in, for example, “We’re the Millers” which also stars Jason Sudekis and Jennifer Aniston, which held its own for the length of the film.  Here, the cast can only do so much when the writing is so damn stilted.

After the GMA appearance, there were other truly funny moments such as when they are hiring employees for their new production facility.  “Do you have any work experience?”  asks the Jason Sudekis character of each hot woman applicant.  When they answer “No” he says, “You’re hired!”  until Bateman’s character eventually explains to him why, as the employer, he can’t have sex with them.

Then…. well….  it’s like the writers gave up early.   Our heroes face endless obstacles.   The shock of being manipulated by a wealthy investor who turns out to be a cross between Gordon Gekko and Machiavelli sends the trio on revenge mission involving the kidnapping of the investor’s sociopathic son. Naturally, the scheme continually backfires, and there’s some comedy involved, but it also got tedious in places.  The 2 bosses that lived after the first movie and reprise their roles do so with differing results.  Kevin Spacey clearly relishes his role as the former dictator-boss now in prison, and speaks his lines with stage actor gusto.  Jennifer Aniston, on the other hand, was reduced into almost a cariacature of her previous role.   She’s now a recovering (sort of) sex addict who likes to “flip gays.”  I can’t make this stuff up.  In the effort to capitalize on her harassing aggressor persona, the writers seemed desperate. Lines such as “You’ve got three things sticking out, I’ve got three holes” should have never even made it into a first draft.    Poorly written dialogue appears to permeate the script throughout as the writers continued to take every gag to the illogical extreme.  This got old in the first movie, too, but it wasn’t as bad.  Even the way the three leads constantly trade lines and talk over one another to the point where it annoys the other characters onscreen… which is OK… is overdone to the point where it annoys the audience and not on purpose  which is not OK.

A couple of reviewers thought the script was lazy, but I can’t necessarily agree.  I didn’t see it as laziness, actually, the movie struggles under the weight of its needlessly convoluted plot.  There are still a few pearls in this sludge, if the viewer is patient enough to wash off the sludge in order to get the pearl, such as the illustration of billionare corrupt CEOS compared with the life of average workers in the US, or the fact that, the guys do not seem to ever learn anything from their misadventures.   Notably, when they go to visit Spacey again at the prison, we are reminded that they are still way too eager to seek approval from a bullying authority figure.

When the Jamie Foxx character makes the unsubtle point that they have crossed the line from being loveable goofs to actual criminals, the writers are either unwittingly or intentionally blasting a cannon sized hole in their own script.

I like some of what this movie is trying to say.  For example, the movie makes the point that everyone, no matter how rich and powerful, works for someone.   Let’s hope they get their act together for Horrible Bosses 3, because that will be coming.  RB is available to assist the writing team if needed.