Review of the Week: Horrible Bosses 2 

The umbrage you take at Horrible Bosses 2 (if you take any at all) is likely a variation on the umbrage you may have taken at The Hangover Pt. II, 22 Jump Street, or even, say, Shanghai Knights. As a rule, sequels created and cut from whole cloth after an initial film's success are doomed to failure (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest representing that phenomenon's purest exhibit), and Horrible Bosses 2, which is now showing areawide, is no exception.

You can look at this two ways. On one hand, if you're a fan of the franchise's brand of humor, you won't be disappointed. You're in for precisely the same treatment you got in the original Horrible Bosses: the same three doofs — the straight man (Jason Bateman), the dummy (Jason Sudeikis) and the howling imp (Charlie Day) — improv-bickering with each other as they debate the clumsy architecture of their revenge hijinks. The goal is certainly quantity of humor over quality here, and many of the jokes (even the dumbest ones) hit the mark.

But on the other hand, shouldn't we expect more from our mainstream comedies? Shouldn't we demand more than three known white male comedians goofing around with each other, assuming their respective personas and then rehashing familiar material? (Note: This paragraph was cut and pasted from a review of Hangover Pt. II).

The standard operating procedure during production is to keep the camera rolling on these guys as they do their scenes. Writer/director Sean Anders (who wrote Hot Tub Time Machine and directed That's My Boy) lets them play around with delivery and punchlines. That's fine, and it makes for hilarious bloopers, but it also creates the effect that the script was sketched more than written. Moreover, it implies that the premise, plot, and characters themselves were incidental to the easy main event: jokes, jokes, jokes.

Anyway, here's the nutshell: Having escaped the perils of their former jobs, Nick, Kurt and Dale have decided to become their own bosses, comedy sequels requiring but one fundamental twist: e.g., "Let's send Ace Ventura to Africa!"  But their entrepreneurial dreams die young, and they resort to kidnapping the white male son (Chris Pine) of the white male tycoon (Christoph Waltz) that did them dirty in their first major deal.

Comedy ensues!


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