Written by John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, Sean Anders, John Morris
Directed by Sean Anders
New Line Cinema
Release November 2014
I loved 2011’s HORRIBLE BOSSES. Really loved it. I bought the DVD and must have re-watched it dozens of times. Even today, when I’m flipping channels, if the movie is on TV I’ll still stop and watch it. Nevertheless, when I heard that there was going to be a sequel, I posed the question WHY ARE THEY MAKING A SEQUEL TO “HORRIBLE BOSSES”? because it just seemed so unnecessary due to the way the original wrapped up. And when I saw the trailers, it did not look funny to me. So I skipped it when it came out in the theaters, but I was at Target last week and there it was on sale. I’d honestly forgotten all about it, but I decided on impulse to pick it up, just for the heck of it, and I finally watched it today.
I must admit, I was impressed.
The writers came up with a story the feels like a natural progression from the first film, as opposed to just a retread. They even came up with mostly plausible reasons to feature the two surviving bosses from the first film. As it opens, we learn that since the events of the first film Nick, Kurt, and Dale (returning cast members Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day) have all quit their respective jobs and are attempting to go into business for themselves. They’ve invented a device called The Shower Buddy, a special shower head that in addition to water also squirts shampoo, to make it easier to wash your hair in the shower, and are busy trying to find investors for their business. After a joint interview and demonstration on a local morning TV news show goes hilariously wrong, the men are dejected. But then they get a surprise offer from a billionaire businessman Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son and business partner Rex (Chris Pine). Burt agrees to invest in The Shower Buddy and be sole distributor of the item at his retail stores, and places an initial order for 1000 units. Ecstatic, and now with the capital that they need (after taking out a loan from a bank that Burt recommended), the men buy a warehouse, hire a staff, and get busy making the product. However, when they finish with the initial order and present it to the Hanson’s, they learn that Burt is double-crossing them. He’s canceled his order, meaning that unless the men can come up with $500,000 in a month, they’ll go out of business and lose everything, and then Burt will simply snap up their product and all the rights to it at an auction.
The guys are angry, but don’t have anything that they can do about it, due to having spent their entire life savings in their business. They actually approach Nick’s former boss David Harken (a returning Kevin Spacey), who is prison for the murder of Jason’s former boss, and ask him for advice. Admittedly, that part is quite a stretch, it’s hard to imagine that they’d realistically seek him out for help, and is clearly just an excuse to have Spacey appear in this film. But I’m letting that slide because Spacey is just so good in his brief scene. He knows how to play a smarmy jacka** with cheerful delight.
Side note: years ago when thinking about the possibility of a big budget film adaptation of the TV soap opera Dallas, I picked Kevin Spacey to play the new J.R. Ewing because, like the late great Larry Hagman (R.I.P.), he knows how to play a villain with a twinkle in his eye.
Anyway, after Harkin points out that there’s nothing that they can do legally to stop Hanson, the men decide that it’s time to try something illegal. They get the idea to kidnap Rex and hold him for ransom, to get the money they need to save their business. They seek out their old friend Motherf***er Jones (Jamie Foxx) for advice. And as they devise their plan they realize that they need something to render Rex unconscious after they abduct him, and decide to sneak back into Dale’s old job at the Dentist office, where they know his former boss Julia has laughing gas that they can use. This is a very logical way to bring that character (once again played by Jennifer Aniston) back for this film. Sneaking into her office one night, they get surprised when Julie arrives with a group of people. We learn that Julia is a recovering sex addict, and the people she’s with are others in her sex addiction support group, which is meeting in her office that night. Nick gets discovered and pretends to be a fellow sex addict and sits in with the group in order to give Kurt and Dale time to sneak out undetected. But in doing so he has to pretend to be a homosexual, whom Julia then becomes determined to “convert.” And once the laughing gas is procured, it’s time to put the kidnap plan into action..
I won’t spoil the rest. But, as expected, the plan does not work out exactly like the men hoped it would. But there are several twists and turns and double-crosses before it is all over. As I said at the beginning, I was impressed. Perhaps it’s because I went into this with lowered expectations, but this film turned out to be much better that I thought it would be. This is due in large part to the three leads, Batemen, Sudeikis, and Day are all great comedic actors and they have excellent onscreen chemistry with each other. They play off each other very well when delivering their lines. Likewise with the rest of the returning cast, I’ve already praised Spacey, but Jamie Foxx is also very good, as his role is wisely increased this time around. And Jennifer Aniston continues to prove what a great comedic talent she is, with the interesting expanded background of her character, which helps explain Julia’s actions in the original film.
As for the newcomers, Christoph Waltz does his usual great work in his role, like Spacey he is particularly good as a comedic villain, and I really think that Chris Pine stands out. I like him as the new Captain Kirk in the rebooted Star Trek films, but between this and his role in the romcom THIS MEANS WAR I have to say that he’s really got a knack for comedy. I think he should pursue that direction more for his film career, instead of trying to be an action hero.
So, all in all, this is a good film. Not quite as good as the first, but pretty good on its own. I’m glad I’ve got it and, based on this, if there ever is a Horrible Bosses 3, you can count me in!