Horrible Bosses wasn’t a funny film in 2011 but it made money. Thus a sequel has been made and it manages to make the first look like a brilliant cinematic work by comparison.
When we left Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) they were still working for other people, having eliminated their terrible bosses from their lives but not having better positioned themselves. Now the trio have opted to open up their own business and seemingly have their first big buyer lined up. But when he (Christoph Waltz) reneges, and they need $500,000 to save the business, they opt to kidnap his son (Chris Pine) and hold him for ransom. But when the son wants to team up with them, to go for a big score, things get wilder than ever.
Or at least that’s the tagline.
In reality it’s a continuation of a franchise that neither needed or warranted it. The first film wasn’t all that funny but it posited something identifiable: who wouldn’t want to kill their horrible boss if they were able to push aside the moral scruples required? It was an interesting conceit, of having to root for the bad guys if only because their bosses were even worse people, but it failed mainly because the bosses were better developed as characters than Nick, Dale and Kurt. You could interchange all three of them, who are supposed to have different personas, and not miss a beat in the film.
It’s even worse this time around as Sudeikis and Day are seemingly playing the same motor mouthed character.
The film’s other problem is that it replaced an effective conceit, of wanting to kill your boss, and turns it into a generic revenge story. Horrible Bosses at least gave us the option to root for the lesser of two evils because it allows an identification in the same way “Stone Cold” Steve Austin beating up his boss in the ’90s WWF allowed pro wrestling fans. It’s something many people want to do but don’t because murder is profoundly illegal and immoral in polite society, especially for something as trivial as a poor supervisor. It’s wish fulfillment but that can work on some level, and worked in Horrible Bosses because they were “good” people who felt that murder was a justifiable way to a better working experience.
We could understand, at least, and the bumbling efforts from all three made it a lot less dark than the subject material could’ve warranted. The difference between this film and its predecessor is that this film feels like a bunch of idiots trying to crime their way out of a problem their basic dense nature got themselves into, as opposed to a modicum of wish fulfillment. It makes them profoundly unsympathetic, which is a bad thing for a trio of what are supposed to be heroes in a comedy. It makes a speech by MF Jones (Jamie Foxx) where he points out how they really aren’t good people doing a bad thing, just bad people doing a bad thing, that much more poignant.
These aren’t good people and it makes the film feel a little dirty; you’re supposed to be rooting for one series of bad guys over another because of a unethical (but legal) business venture. They’re off to a commit a crime because they got screwed, not because of any true inspiration that we can get behind, and it makes the whole film feel petty as opposed to somewhat justified under a very foggy moral code. There’s a fine line between wish fulfillment and resorting to petty crime after your own idiocy results in public failure because of your assumption that everyone plays by the rules and uses the same ethics.
It could help if the film were actually funny, which for the most part it isn’t. What we get are mainly repeats of the same gags from the first film, sight gags that were done better over a decade ago by Michael Myers in the Austin Powers franchise and not much else. This is a film that explicitly panders to the mouth breathing types that think subtitles are for “geeks” and the like. If you liked Dumb & Dumber To then this is a repeat of the same sort of lazy humor you’ll enjoy.
Director: Sean Anders Writer: Sean Anders & John Morris Notable Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.