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Horrible Bosses 2
The trivia section of Horrible Bosses' IMDB page states that in between cast members Kevin Spacey, Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx, the film boasts a total of five Academy Awards. If you need proof that winning a bunch of Oscars will not necessarily result in quality material afterwards, you don't need to look further than Horrible Bosses 2.
What is it about recent comedy sequels that makes them so bland, lazy and downright intolerable? It might have something to do with the fact that there usually isn't any practical reason to return to the same well other than a financial motivation. Sure, the premise of The Hangover made pretty sure that it was supposed to be a single shot deal, but it made a lot of money, so now we have two horrible sequels forever attached to what was supposed to be a decent comedy. Don't even get me started on Dumb and Dumber To.
Sure, sequels from other genres are greenlit solely for financial reasons as well, but action, sci-fi, or horror depend more on familiar spectacle where the more-of-the-same approach can work better. But comedy requires invention and freshness to work. Trudging out the same jokes for a second helping is much more depressing than utilizing the exact same sci-fi actioner with slightly better special effects. That's why there aren't a lot of "cover comedians" doing nostalgic "Take my wife, please" jokes at comedy clubs.
But I guess 2011's somewhat charming yet immediately forgettable Horrible Bosses made enough money to warrant a sequel, so here we are with literally more of the same jokes, with half the incentive to trudge out the same material. Our hapless trio, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) go into business for themselves after attempting to murder their horrible bosses in the first film. The sequel begins with a morning TV segment showcasing the gang's pedantic invention called The Shower Buddy. Right off the bat, a lame joke that plays on the N-word lets us know how desperate this comedy is to extract laughs from the audience.
After getting screwed by billionaire businessman Bert (Christoph Waltz, an incredibly inventive actor with two Oscars to prove for it, who's given absolutely nothing to do here), the gang decides to kidnap Bert's entitled douchebag son Rex (Chris Pine, who at least has a bit of fun with this dumb material). When Rex turns out to be a psychopath who's after his father's money as well, he joins Nick, Kurt and Dale in order to swindle his old man. Oh, and movie pirate Motherf----r Jones (Jamie Foxx) and nymphomaniac nurse Julia (Jennifer Aniston) are back for no other reason than the fact that their characters were popular in first film.
The producers' desperation in including these two otherwise brilliant actors in the sequel becomes painfully obvious when the characters repeatedly show up during the third act. Not only is there no way for them to know where the gang is supposed to be, or what they're supposed to be doing, their scenes drag the already languid pace down due to lack of sufficient motivation (Guess what, Julia still wants to hump Dale's brains out, ha ha).
Horrible Bosses 2's 1080p presentation is clean, crisp and without any apparent video noise, which is expected from a recent studio release. The digital cinematography makes itself very apparent at times, leading to a downright cheap and unpolished look in relation to its budget.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Surround transfer boasts a lot of surround presence, considering the fact that although this is a comedy, it incorporates a lot of action sequences just like the first film did. In fact, since it apes the third act of the first film almost verbatim, you can predictably expect a lot of semi-entertaining car chase sounds to keep you busy.
Extended Version: I didn't want to waste more of my time with Horrible Bosses 2, so I opted to watch the Theatrical Version. The Extended Version adds almost ten minutes, and a quick sampling, as well as some research, shows that there isn't anything worthwhile in the added footage.
Endless Laughter Guaranteed!: Nope. In this very badly titled featurette, the cast and crew talks about what makes comedy work. If only they applied it to the final product.
Let The Sexual Healing Begin: A 3-minute faux PSA about sexual addiction. Any delicate and taboo subject can be made fun of. Unfortunately, when it's not funny, it becomes very painful to watch.
Who Invented The Shower Buddy?: A one-minute painful improv session where the lead actors pretend to have invented The Shower Buddy.
Employee Testimonials: The "employees" at Nick, Kurt and Dale's fictional company give positive testimonials. Another bit of painful improv.
The Shower Buddy Infomercial: Make it stop, please, make it stop!
High Speed Crash Course: A very short featurette about the car chase at the end.
Off The Cuff: A series of one-liners cut out of the film. If the ones that made it in were terrible, imagine how bad these are.
I can't tell if Horrible Bosses 2 is more of a depressing experience for the audience or for the cast and crew who felt compelled to make it. Nearly all of the cast who returned for seconds look miserable doing it, which might explain why Chris Pine ends up being the only tolerable presence in this misguided sequel. As a newcomer to the hopefully finished franchise, he looks like he genuinely wanted to stretch his comedy chops. Please don't even waste your time on this.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com