I quite enjoyed Horrible Bosses. I didn’t love it but there was a simple plot, actors I liked, and I didn’t spend the duration angry, bored, and offended. The same cannot be said for the sequel.
The plot of Horrible Bosses was straight forward. The three leads played by Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, and Jason Sudeikis all hated their bosses and so collectively decided to help one another murder their superiors. Hilarity, of a sort, ensued and everything was wrapped up neatly at the end. Horrible Bosses 2 stumbles into the room ignoring its own pointlessness and established the trio as having moved on from their happy endings to set up a business together. Having been tricked by a greedy entrepreneur, Christoph Waltz continuing to accept any role offered, they find themselves deep in debt and with their fledgling company under threat. Rather than work their way out of trouble they quickly decide to raise funds by kidnapping their nemesis’ bratty son in the shape of Chris Pine.
And so begins a kidnapping caper filled with twists, turns, and attempts at humour. Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Aniston, and Kevin Spacey all pop up to reprise their roles from the first film as a miscellaneous criminal, sex-obsessed rapist, and murderous psychopath respectively. None are needed for the plot but all are essential to keep fans of the original from realising this isn’t the same film. Because that is the sense I got throughout the film; that it was doing its best to appease fans and then throwing enough random ideas at the screen to keep everyone distracted until it was all over.
The plot of Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t actually that of a comedy. The plot of kidnapping and double-crossing is not inherently funny, and certainly not funny in practise, so instead the hard work is left to Day, Bateman, and Sudeikis. The three actors are left to improvise and fill scenes with the jokes that the seven writers failed to put in themselves. The constant ad libbing means that every scene ends up feeling exactly the same as the leads talk over each other in a way that rapidly grates more and more each time. Any laughs that do come are thanks to the work of Charlie Day who plays the fool to the interchangeable straight man roles played by Bateman and Sudeikis. When your three main characters don’t have three distinct personalities you are in trouble.
When Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t hoping you will laugh at three straight white men it is using the casting of any actor outside of that demographic as a comedic device. All women were either sex objects or comedy foreign characters and I urge you to try finding a black man in the film that isn’t a criminal. Throw in some mildly homophobic dialogue and Horrible Bosses 2 can rest easy knowing it has managed to turn everyone into a stereotype worthy of denigration. Comedy like this simply shouldn’t exist any more and had me shifting in my seat in discomfort.
As you might have been able to tell by now I really did not enjoy Horrible Bosses 2. There were too many unscripted moments of uncontrolled ad libbing and not enough well crafted comedy. The questionable use of any character who wasn’t both white and male was indefensible. I laughed a few times thanks to Charlie Day but for the rest of the film I was cringing and even worse, a little bored.