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Film Review: Horrible Bosses 2

Not a total success, this is still more than you'd hope for from a mainstream buddy comedy sequel.
From left Charlie Day,  Jason Sudeikis, and Jason Bateman in Horrible Bosses 2. Courtesy New Line Cinema
From left Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, and Jason Bateman in Horrible Bosses 2. Courtesy New Line Cinema

Horrible Bosses 2

Director: Sean Anders

Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey

Three stars

The publicity campaign for 2011’s Horrible Bosses was built around the ample assumption that we all hate our managers (not me, honest), and the blackly comedic conceit that if we really get down to the nitty gritty, we’d be better off if they were disposed of.

It was a stroke of marketing genius for sure – who really likes their employer, me aside? – but also an edgy, inventive plot device. For all its lighthearted gags, and despite the psychotic, pathological tendencies of its victims, Horrible Bosses essentially demanded that our sympathies lie with a group of three would-be murderers – and largely succeeded.

The sequel picks up with our terrible trio, having sworn never to work for any boss again, launching their own business manufacturing the Shower Buddy, a ­ridiculous time-saving nozzle that sprays ­shampoo like a car-wash.

When a billionaire investor (played hilariously by Django Unchained scene-­chewer Christoph Waltz) double-crosses our hapless heroes, a ridiculous kidnapping plot is spawned, and the film slots into its comfortable comedic groove. The familiar faces enjoy an easy chemistry returning to their typecast grumpy-happy-dumb roles – Jason Bateman’s Nick, Jason Sudeikis’s Kurt and Charlie Day’s Dale.

In essence, it’s another lowbrow, post-Hangover buddy comedy the type of which the world appears to be awash, but Horrible Bosses 2 is a welcome cut above. It’s not so much that the jokes are smarter (there are plenty of cringe-inducing moments, often strafing lines of taste and nudging prejudices uncomfortably), but they’re simply better- executed, with the writing just about intelligent enough with its silliness. The script marks the third hit in little more than a year from writers John Morris and Sean Anders, following We’re the Millers and Dumb and Dumber To, with Anders also sitting comfortably in the director’s chair this time around.

However, it’s the performances that make this film – the tight trio hot-wired with comedic intuition. The script serves charismatic Sudeikis and straight man Bateman all the best lines, while Day is over-utilised as the grating one-note fall guy.

Also returning is Jennifer Aniston, who seems to enjoy the frivolity of her absurd character, while Jamie Foxx’s ­small-time gangster plays an integral role. The scene-stealer, however, is Kevin Spacey, phenomenally funny even as he performs all his scenes from the other side of a prison phone.

Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t a total success – the hit rate for jokes was at around two in three based on our preview audience, but it’s certainly more than you’d hope for from a mainstream buddy-comedy sequel. You are likely to laugh a lot – just expect to cringe a bit, too.

rgarratt@thenational.ae

Updated: November 26, 2014 04:00 AM

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