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Directed by Sean Anders

Starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Chris Pine

With the surprise box office success of the original outing it was inevitable that a sequel would crawl out of the woodwork at some juncture, and here we are. Horrible Bosses 2 gets the gang back together (minus Colin Farrell’s dearly departed comb-over) for another tilt at black comedy.

Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day) have finally broken free of their shackles and are pursuing the American dream of becoming their own bosses. They seek to market the Shower Buddy under their new enterprise, the unfortunately named Nick-Kurt-Dale (pronounced quickly to sound like a racial slur). However, when their company is threatened by the unscrupulous dealings of the entrepreneurial Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), the trio fall back to their old ways and plan a crime. This time, instead of murder, they plan to kidnap Hanson’s playboy son (Chris Pine).

Part of the problem with Horrible Bosses 2 is trying to buy the dynamics between the three primary leads. The back-and-forth largely unscripted interaction between Bateman, Sudeikis and Day is the key to most of the comedy. In general it falls flat, putting across one or two good lines seemingly by accident.

The film is on much firmer ground when the trio is interacting with either the reoccurring or new characters. Here and in the set pieces the quality noticeably lifts and there are actually some genuine funny moments, instead of the inane and painful bungling of our three supposed heroes. Jamie Foxx as Mutherfucker Jones once again nails it as the gang’s criminal Yoda. Kevin Spacey is having a blast spewing vitriol and profanities. Jennifer Aniston is…well I guess there is a whole question as to whether a sexual predator is funny merely because you flip the traditional gender bias, thereby addressing established inequities of power Let’s just say there is more of the same from her and move on.

Added to the mix this time is Chris Pine, putting in a roller-coaster of performance as the goalposts for his character constantly shift and Pine dutifully drags the audience along with him (from villainous to sympathetic to just a bit of an arse) as required. By contrast Christoph Waltz seems somewhat uncomfortable in the role of the CEO of a bathroom empire and comes across as a little lacklustre.

An incredibly uneven work, Horrible Bosses 2 is at its best when it is tightly controlled and playing out its larger set pieces. Here there is genuine comedy and the occasional flash of brilliance. Sadly the core of it is a sporadically funny (but often flat) trio of actors, reliant on improvising with often racist, sexist or just plain off-colour material. As such it lacks much of the bite it needs and is generally disappointing.





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