Review

'Horrible Bosses 2' has horribly funny moments, but too few

Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times Film Critic
'Horrible Bosses 2' isn't as horrible as the original 'Bosses,' but it's not even a good R-rated comedy

In the sexually inappropriate and politically incorrect "Horrible Bosses 2," the bumbling workplace underdogs played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day are about to try their hand at being in charge. And at times, they are horribly funny.

Being the boss makes for a lot of incredibly idiotic, highly amusing running amok, especially with a nasty new nemesis in Chris Pine, whose eyebrows and sense of entitlement are completely out of control.

Make no mistake, despite some well-earned laughs, "Horrible Bosses 2" is not what qualifies as a good movie or even a particularly good R-rated comedy. But there is more to laugh at in "2" than the first, so let's go with less horrible, shall we?

Directed by Sean Anders, who wrote the screenplay with creative partner John Morris, what "2" does better is play to its sweet spot — not the bosses but the beaten-down schlubs beneath them. At least any offense coming from that quarter isn't intentional. They're not dumb as in "Dumb and Dumber," but they're not too bright either.

Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) are, however, a much more cohesive comic team this time. Their annoying silly sallies are much snappier. The chemistry between them is good enough to almost make them a modern-day Larry, Curly and Moe — albeit more intelligent, more prurient and more attractive.

Kevin Spacey is back as horrible boss Dave Harken, best remembered for his scathing tirades, but he's behind bars and better now that his screaming comes in smaller doses.

Jennifer Aniston reprises Dr. Julia Harris, the R-rated dentist who specializes in sexual assaulting. There's still far too much of her porn dominatrix. Not a wise choice, since the naughty-doc bits never pay off. I'm guessing the implied hospital rape of a comatose male won't draw many laughs, even from the guys who come to see Aniston in a little leather and lace.

Completely inappropriate references are not limited to naughty doc. It must be in the "Horrible" articles of incorporation. As they did in the first, the filmmakers bet heavily on innuendo and politically incorrectness to carry the film when the plotting fails, starting with the opening scenes.

The guys are being featured on a local morning TV show for their new invention — it involves a shower and shampoo. They kick things off with what sounds like a racial slur and move right into a demonstration that makes it look as if Dale is giving Kurt a "hand" in the shower.

The riffs are laughable, and I don't mean that as praise. They do, however, serve to lower expectations (assuming they weren't at rock bottom going in), which makes some of what follows seem almost brilliant in comparison.

The movie turns on the question of who controls the shower idea — the boys or a big cheese named Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz). Bert is a mogul who likes to get his way, and when the guys won't sell out, he comes up with another plan.

Enter Rex (Pine). A chip off the horrible block, Rex is not content living in dad's shadow. He's making some plans of his own.

In this movie, everyone has plans. When Nick, Kurt and Dale find themselves in a huge financial bind, they hatch a plot to grab Rex, demand enough ransom to cover their losses, then let the jerk's jerky son go. No harm, no foul, right?

I imagine you can guess the answer to that one.

It does trigger a series of twists and turns, some smart, some silly, many salacious. Dean "MF" Jones (Jamie Foxx) as always has criminal advice for a price. It also makes room for a lot more action, car chases and crashes.

Bateman's Nick is the clear leader with a higher IQ and an even higher level of irritation. It's a look the actor has become so adept at, I'm sure he can do it in his sleep. Wait, was he? No, that would be horrible. Wouldn't it?

Day is the live wire, alternating between pure idiocy and paralyzing insecurity. His delivery and his physical comedy are top-notch even in this low-brow milieu.

Meanwhile, Sudeikis is perfectly cast as the man in the middle, willing to go whichever way the wind blows. As Kurt, the choices are not based on right and wrong as much as cool and fun.

Together, they deliver most of the "Horrible" sequel's highs. Even in the worst moments, the threesome clicks. It's hard not to wish Nick, Kurt and Dale would find themselves another job. Like in a movie that surrounded them with better material. 

---------------------------------------

'Horrible Bosses 2'

MPAA rating: R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout

Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Playing: In general release

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World