'Bosses' gets a promotion; Horrible Bosses 2 review

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Film: Horrible Bosses 2

Release Date: Nov. 26

Studio: Warner Bros.

Grade: B

This has been the year for unnecessary sequels. Unexpectedly, these films have turned out to be clever, humorous and filled with smart comedy that in some cases improve on the original source material. Earlier this year, 22 Jump Street set the bar high, and although movies like Dumb and Dumber To and now Horrible Bosses 2 can’t beat it, they are all in the same league of hilariously zany sequels.

Horrible Bosses 2 has all the qualities of a bad movie. It has a wafer thin, convoluted plot that doesn’t begin until the last 20 minutes. In the first film it was logical for our characters to assume killing their bosses would solve their problems; here the crime seems too random – there aren’t even any bosses in the movie.

The film follows Nick (Jason Bateman, This is Where I Leave You), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis, Portlandia) and Dale (Charlie Day, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), as they embark on their own business venture – clearly having learned their lesson in the first film. This time around, they have developed a new product, which has captured the attention of a major distributor. After a double cross causes the deal to go awry, they hatch a kidnapping scheme to try to right the situation and come back out on top.

Amazingly, this movie defies the awfulness of the plot and somehow manages to hold your attention and keep you laughing from beginning to end. In an almost magical fashion, plot twists occur that you never saw coming, mainly because you never saw the plot. This movie reminded me of a classic ’80s comedy, in which it was less about the quality and story and more about the stars and dialogue – think Beverly Hills Cop meets 9 to 5.

The film’s success is derived from its perfectly assembled cast. Bateman has made a career out of playing beleaguered characters. Much like his character in Arrested Development, he is the straight man for the others’ stupid behaviors and is the group’s voice of reason. His deadpan delivery although repetitive is suitable for the role and very polished.

Sudeikis is one of the most recent actors Saturday Night Live has turned into a star. Sudeikis is a master at improvisation and effectively works off of the other two for maximum hilarity.

Charlie Day is perhaps the least well known of the bunch, but that doesn’t diminish his talent or contribution. He very much plays the Curley to Sudeikis and Bateman’s Larry and Moe. As in his TV show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” he is the master of the non sequitur. The things he says and does are random and stupid, packing so much aplomb that he doesn’t care you’re laughing at him.

The three actors were relatively unknown when the first movie came out. They return to this film as stronger household names. Their witty banter and sophomoric rapport is so natural it is unclear what is script and what is adlibbed. They play off of each other so perfectly. This is why the film works.

The supporting characters – comprised of Hollywood beauty Jennifer Aniston (Cake) and Oscar winners Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) and Jamie Foxx (Annie) – were lead characters in the first film, but now have merely cameo roles. Aniston’s inclusion, although hilarious and raunchy, seemed more of an afterthought. It’s almost as if the writers finished the script then added Aniston after.

Newcomer Chris Pine (Vampire Lawyer With Chris Pine) plays the smug son of evil business tycoon, Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz, Muppets Most Wanted). Waltz could have been used more effectively, and Pine was supposed to be charming, but came across as whiney.

Through no fault of their own, their characters caused the film to drag. They are both great actors and should have been playing different characters more suitable to their skills.

Although Horrible Bosses 2 is a flawed film, it is a shining example of what a true ensemble comedy should be.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com