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After all the excitement of Dumb and Dumber To opening on November 7 to an enthusiastic existing fanbase who waited years for a sequel, it is ironic that Horrible Bosses 2 is the funniest of the two comedic sequels to premiere in 2014. The first Horrible Bosses effort premiered in 2011 to mainly uneven reviews, although the late Roger Ebert gave it three and a half out of four stars. The film performed very well at the box office mainly due to the cast which, according to Rotten Tomatoes, was the black comedy’s saving grace.
Horrible Bosses 2 brought back the main protagonists; Jason Bateman, who it has to be said is on fire this year with two other comedies (This Is Where I Leave You, The Longest Week) having premiered on top of “Bosses,” Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx. Newcomers to the film include Chris Pine (Star Trek, People Like Us) and Christoph Waltz (Django, Carnage) along with the delightfully droll Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad, Bullet).
The story this time follows the three men from the first film, Nick (Bateman), Dale (Day) and Kurt (Sudeikis) who are now their own bosses after developing the “Shower Buddy” and going on television to flog their idea for investors to help them get their company started. Despite a somewhat abysmal live promo, Rex Hanson (Pine) shows a lot of enthusiastic interest in the men and the product.
The trio go to meet Rex and learn that he wants to give the men a one time price to take over the product as well as manufacture and sell it via “his” online business. Nick talks his two colleagues into turning down the offer only to learn that it would have been $3 million. While the four men talk, Rex’s father comes in, Burt (Waltz) – who is the real owner of the business – and he tells the three that he will invest in their business and orders an enormous amount of Shower Buddy appliances all to be sold exclusively in his catalogue.
This promising start to Horrible Bosses 2, a sequel that may just be the funniest film of 2014, does not last long for the trio. The three losers cannot hope to succeed so easily and if they did there would be no need for a part two to the first darkly comic movie. While things start out great the audience know all too well that the trio of men, who suffer varying degrees of ineptitude, are going to do something to mess this up. They do not, as it turns out, but are clearly out of their depth here even if they did not act true to form.
The men hire workers, set up their factory and finish the order early. When they go to tell Hanson the good news he tells them he has cancelled the order. The older Hanson has planned all along to take over the three men’s business. The desperate trio decide to kidnap Rex who plays along to get back at his father. Nick, Kurt and Dale go to see Motherf**ker Jones (Foxx) for advice on how they should go about the kidnapping of Hanson’s son.
Jennifer Aniston is truly hysterical as sex addicted dentist Julia and Kevin Spacey as David Harken, who was an intended murder victim in the first film but winds up in prison at the end Horrible Bosses. At the beginning of Horrible Bosses 2, Spacey’s character greets the trio from behind glass with vitriol and scorn practically dripping from his lips. Aniston’s character goes after Nick, whom she believes to be gay, and later appears just in time to jeopardize the men’s plans.
Horrible Bosses 2 is still a black comedy but with an enormous amount of belly laugh moments. Directed by Sean Anders (We’re the Millers, Hot Tub Time Machine) who also had a hand in writing the screenplay the film has action that is fast paced, funny and even better than the first film in terms hysterically funny set pieces in the movie. The name of this film and its predecessor could have been Three Degrees of Stupid. Of course that sounds uncomfortably close to Dumb and Dumber. The truth is that all three of these chaps suffer from different levels of intelligence and lack thereof. This film is easily the funniest sequel of 2014 and may actually pick up the nod for best comedy, it certainly outshines the Farrelly Brothers’ effort with ease. Horrible Bosses 2 opens November 26. Prepare to be wildly amused and to laugh until it hurts.
By Michael Smith
Brenden Palms Theater