The old adage “throw enough mud at a wall, some of it will stick” provides excellent advice for those hoping to cover a wall with mud, but it doesn’t readily translate to filmmaking. In spite of this, the saying seems to have formed a mantra for the creators of Horrible Bosses 2. A scattergun approach pervades all: from the way characters witter on irreverently well beyond every supposed punchline in the hope that humour will be found in something someone comes out with, to a casting strategy again more concerned with shoehorning in big names than with whether they suit their roles.
A follow up to 2011’s Horrible Bosses (a diverting enough crime caper, though hardly a classic screaming out for a sequel), the film reunites Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis in the lead roles. All three actors come with a good pedigree in acclaimed television comedy, but are not able to save the desperately re-hashed material they’re given to work with here from bombing hard.
With a silly plot retracing many of the steps of the first film (with the ineptly criminal trio exacting revenge against the billionaire businessman who hoodwinked them out of the profits from preposterous invention they’ve collaborated on) there is a feeling that all the good gags have been used. As such, the script is built around such shaky foundations as idiotic puerility from Day and chauvinistic puerility from Sudeikis. Bateman should have “straight man” down pat after years playing Michael Bluth in Arrested Development, but without properly crafted laughs to bounce off he becomes a vanilla annoyance.
Initial novelty in seeing Christoph Waltz in a new zany context as the dastardly mogul wears off with the realisation that his villainous portrayal of Nazi Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds came with far more genuinely funny lines. He just looks embarrassed here. Kevin Spacey is wasted in much the same way; quite literally phoning in a reprisal of his role in the original film. Jennifer Aniston too – a perfectly capable comedy actress – is left to flounder, plumbing new gross-out depths in attempts to make a joke appear new at the second time of telling, in her return as sex-addicted dentist Julia Harris. Her suppression of the natural instinct to balk at her own lines is palpable. Audiences will need to suppress these same instincts to avoid a 90-minute squirmfest.
Horrible Bosses 2 is released nationwide on 28th November 2014.
Watch the trailer for Horrible Bosses 2 here: