Written by Ankit Ojha
What to Expect
Horrible Bosses 2 is, quite obviously, a sequel of a runaway success.
I’m just going to let that statement settle in for a while.
Now that you have that in mind, let’s look at the directorial credits of the first Horrible Bosses. Seth Gordon directed this particular film, and he’s had dazzlingly acclaimed films like The King of Kong and some daring-but-slippery attempts like the documentary film Freakonomics (yes, adapted from the much loved book that went nuts on us) to his credit. While we’re going to conveniently forget Identity Thief, we can – at the very least – say that he’s definitely a director to reckon with. After all, it’s not always that one gets to have the frightening burden of directing the upcoming movie adaptation of Uncharted, which is easily one the most popular game franchises of all time.
Now that we have that in context, let’s look at the profile of Sean Anders for just a few seconds. His filmography includes such gems as his directorial ventures That’s My Boy and Sex Drive, with such shining stars of writing credits as We’re the Millers and the recent piece of brilliance, Dumb and Dumber To.
The above paragraph was sarcasm, just in case some of you didn’t get it.
Forgive me for being so judgmental over expectation levels of a film based on its director, but we all know that when a film is directed by John Moore, there’s nothing to expect but gloriously filmed set pieces sans emotion (A Good Day to Die Hard, Max Payne). Or if that’s a bit foggy for you, there’s Michael Bay – and we all know and love Bay for the work he does, don’t we?
Now this is not to say Anders doesn’t have talent. His first film Never Been Thawed showed immense promise, which proves that somewhere inside his mishmash of flat, awkward, let’s-ape-Seth-McFarlane comedy, there’s an inkling of talent hiding.
And it is with these extremely mixed expectations that I went in for the film.
What’s it About?
Well, it’s about the same guys from the first installment – Nick (Jason Bateman; Bad Words), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis; Drinking Buddies) and Dale (Charlie Day; Pacific Rim) – who try to build up their own company, and get duped by a powerful businessman (Christoph Waltz; Water for Elephants). So they hatch a plan to kidnap the businessman’s son. Predictably enough, things don’t go perfectly, there are plenty of weird twists and the guys get back to normal somehow.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The major problem with the whole ideal of making a sequel of a surprise success is that the studios want to follow the same route when the original team doesn’t. In such a case, rewrites and replacements are called for – and the original script written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein called for the infamous “rewriting” procedure, with new writers John Morris and Anders taking over the reins. Now, I try not to be judgmental, but when a film repeatedly makes moves and decreases considerably in quality, one tends to form certain assumptions by default. When the assumptions, thus, come true – which is only most likely – they get strong enough to convert themselves into judgmental opinions of individuals. With the case of this film, unfortunately, I predicted my assumptions to be right, because Horrible Bosses 2 is a major disappointment.
The film milks as much of the first one’s plot elements as possible, by throwing in major bits of improv between the actors and some forced additions and appearances, garnished with a dressing of acting potential drastically wasted. Shamefully enough, the dazzlingly talented trio, who still manage to be affable enough to tolerate on screen, are the ones most in harm in this gratuitous excuse of a screenplay. Additions of the likes of Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston exemplify how forced some subplots are in the film. While Aniston’s character still manages to be very entertaining despite her questionable inclusion in the whole set of events, one wonders why Spacey was even needed for the short role even. The three protagonists in the first film basically have different levels of vulnerability that are decently explained in the set of events. In this installment, however, we’re treated to a calm Bateman and two extremely dumbed down characters in the form of the ones played by Day and Sudeikis.
There are a couple of decently directed, almost-close-to-tolerable scenes, such as a particular montage sequence cut to the beat of the popular Macklelmore/Ryan Lewis single Can’t Hold Us. Unfortunately, if a single scene was the linchpin to saving a whole film, then this film would have been a more likeable one. Not that this isn’t universally dislikable – fans of the first one have major chances of liking the film; even getting the horribly timed, questionable humor – but this is by no means even a patch on the first film, which, despite hinging on slightly unoriginal plot devices, still managed to have brilliant timing throughout its runtime. This makes all the R-rated humor that was transported from the first film to this one a terribly nauseating experience.
One of the biggest aspects of the film that failed here are what definitely looked like (and I might be mistaken here) improv-humor. There are a ton of dialogues and McFarlane-esque one-take shots that exemplify my assumptions of the technique used. A television show like The League handles its semi-scripted content with absolute brilliance, with each character knowing what he/she’s in for. Here, any and every form of potential with the weapon they seem to have unleashed fizzles off.
Technically, the film’s alright. No great shakes. I’d have ordinarily tried to appreciate the film’s more behind-the-scenes production and post-production work, but apart from the fact that it’s shot like an overlong television episode lost in the crowd only to reappear in a movie where it doesn’t fit, I don’t have much to say.
To Perform or Not to Perform
Bateman, Sudeikis and Day are all such affable presences on screen. They give their sincerest shot at the film – but when something’s built on a poor foundation, it’s gotta fall. Their performances, unfortunately, are that “something”. Jamie Foxx is great fun to watch on screen, but unlike the first film, the originality factor wears off, and he’s stuck mouthing the same dialogues he would have in the first movie. Chris Pine is possibly the most annoying presence in the film. Despite the fact that Pine is a decent actor with a potential for roles that have comic timing, this one is possibly his worst attempt at it. An equally dumb film like This Means War (also starring Pine) is a breeze, purely because the comedy is nonchalant enough to take us through one unmemorable-but-tolerable viewing. At the risk of repetition, and unfortunately for him, Pine’s a very good actor, and he tries real hard. The people who take the cake in this film are the ones given the shoddiest character arcs in the film. Christoph Waltz and Jennifer Aniston are absolutely brilliant. They slip into their roles with the utmost ease, and demand attention from you at the same time. ‘Tis too bad one’s not in the film much and the other’s just a cash-grab move.
Unfortunately, not at all.
While the fans of the first one have chances of finding the movie an excellent sequel (either because of the trio or because of the humor), the more discerning ones won’t be able to deny that while the makers attempt to ramp up that R-Rated humor, it all misfires badly, making most of the “comedy” nauseous, and – in some cases – very offensive. The backers need not worry, however. The movie has great potential to do pretty well, considering it is but now a part of a franchise. What’s more; they’ve managed to do everything right in the unwritten rulebook of sequel making.
In conclusion, Horrible Bosses 2, as a film, gets half-a-star. The performances of the trio, Waltz and Aniston get a star. Hence the admittedly generous rating.
Star Rating: 1.5 / 5