Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Sean Anders

Stars: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Christoph Waltz, Chris Pine, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jonathan Banks, Lindsay Sloane, Keegan-Michael Key.

The original Horrible Bosses was an okay comedy about three hapless and downtrodden workers who conspired to kill off their mean spirited and loathsome bosses, but found that their plans went awry. However, it didn’t really need a sequel. Nonetheless, given its success at the box office, it has got one. Thankfully though, unlike a lot of other lazy sequels that merely repeat a winning formula (The Hangover 2, for example), Horrible Bosses 2 pushes the material in a slightly different direction and is also a much sharper and funnier film.

Much of the freshness of Horrible Bosses 2 can be attributed to incoming director Sean Anders, who along with his scriptwriting partner John Morris has given us raunchy adult comedies like Sex Drive, We’re The Millers, etc. The pair are working from an idea from original writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, but they stamp the material with their own ribald touches and plenty of gross out humour.

When the film opens we are reintroduced to our three hapless heroes Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), who have now set themselves up as startup entrepreneurs in their own right and are trying to market their own bathing tool known as “the shower buddy”. They think they have found success when a giant catalogue retail firm invests in their product. But after having spent a small fortune on premises and technology to mass produce their product, their chief investor Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz) backs out of the deal, arrogantly believing that he can drive them into bankruptcy and then buy them out cheaply.

The three hatch a desperate and misguided scheme to kidnap his spoiled playboy son Rex (Chris Pine) and hold him for ransom. But to their surprise Rex is a willing accomplice in the kidnapping as he also wants to inflict some revenge on his father. Before long the three incompetent criminals find themselves losing control of their scheme and they are out of their depth as it spirals out of control.

The three leads share a combustible chemistry that keeps things moving along, and they bounce off one another easily. A lot of the dialogue has been improvised, and they draw big laughs from some of the ludicrous situations they find themselves in. Bateman, as usual, anchors the film with his calm, dry and practical reading of his character who rarely gets flustered even when things around him are falling apart, but he deserves better. Day again provides some easy laughs as the loud-mouthed manchild Dave, who always seems to screw things up.

The supporting cast brings back three of the more memorable characters from the original, although their appearance here seems more contrived. Jennifer Aniston reprises her role as the predatory, sexually voracious and dirty talking dentist Julie Harris who still has the hots for Dale, although this time around her appearance lacks the same shock value. Kevin Spacey snarls and spits venom again as the incarcerated Dave Harken, who still offers the three some advice from behind bars. And Jamie Foxx is a hoot as the unfortunately named Motherf***er Jones, the crazed hitman who advises our three heroes, and this time around he plays a more integral role in their scheme.

Pine, who we have recently seen in action hero mode in both the Star Trek and Jack Ryan reboots, lightens up here and throws himself into a fairly physical role. He seems to enjoy the change of pace, and almost steals the film from the three leads. Due largely to his two Oscars, Waltz finds himself offered lots of work these days, although often he is miscast or underused, as is the case here, and he seems more bemused than anything else.

If you were a fan of the first Horrible Bosses then you’ll find plenty to enjoy here.



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