Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review: Horrible Bosses 2

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.
Since I missed the recent "Dumb and Dumber To," my review for "Horrible Bosses 2" can fill the vacancy for the fall's most obligatory comedy sequel. Yes, the gang - and then some - are all back from the original "Horrible Bosses," although I'm not sure that anything other than that film's $100-plus million gross justifies a second film.

In this one, the everyday schlubs portrayed by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day have created an invention that will make taking a shower easier. The laziness involved in the invention sort of parallels the lack of originality in producing sequels to comedies of this sort, but I digress. They are contacted by a sleazy father-son team (Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine), who operate a major distributor, for the manufacture of their product and, not surprisingly, get royally ripped off.

As revenge, the trio concocts a scheme to kidnap Pine's character, who eventually joins them in the plot to get back at his old man for various reasons. Naturally, nothing goes as it seems, leading to a few laughs and mostly lots of screaming at the screen to no avail.

The picture includes numerous subplots involving secondary characters from the first movie, namely Kevin Spacey as a former boss and now inmate, Jennifer Aniston as the sex addicted boss from the previous picture and Jaime Foxx as a low-rent criminal, of sorts, who assists the film's three leads for no apparent reason.

There are some uncomfortable attempts to litter the film with what could only be described as un-PC material and it's mostly not that funny, but simply squirm inducing. These sequences include Bateman's character getting roped into lying about his sexual orientation at a sex addicts anonymous meeting, the name of the trio's company, which raises some eyebrows from a black talk show personality, and some stereotypes involving an Asian maid.

Also, the picture ups the ante on its predecessor in terms of filthy conversations revolving around sexuality, such as Aniston's being forced to utter virtually every word imaginable to describe the male sex organ as well as her character's later near-involvement in a foursome with the three male leads. I say all this not to be prudish, but rather to once again point out that just because dialogue is taken to extremely profane levels, it's not necessarily funny. The film's screenwriters should take some lessons from Richard Pryor next time around.

"Horrible Bosses 2" is not a bad movie, but just a very mediocre one. Many of the film's jokes fall flat, leaving the talented cast to draw them out to their inevitable conclusions. And despite this being a comedy - a genre that has its own set of rules like any other - I couldn't get my head around the notion that these characters were as dumb as they were supposed to be. This is not, in fact, "Dumb and Dumber," so that these people would be so oblivious to any sort of typical human interaction struck me as unbelievable. Yes, you'll probably see worse comedies this year, but don't mistake that for any kind of endorsement.

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