“Horrible Bosses 2” is a strange experience. While it was happening I laughed and it seemed to be working. I step away from it however, and time is unkind. “Horrible Bosses 2” unravels like a homemade Christmas sweater when placed under a critical eye.
Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day are back in the roles of Nick, Curt and Dale and out from under the yoke of their horrible bosses that they attempted to kill in the 2011 original. Striking out on their own they have an invention that they hope will make them their own Bosses. Unfortunately, though the product does attract financiers, our heroes’ business instincts leave them in the hole and forced once again to extreme measures.
2 time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz is the big bad Boss this time who quickly hoodwinks the trio out of their invention. Waltz’s Bert Hanson takes little time outwitting our heroes leading to the scheme that is the center point of the film: kidnapping Hanson’s son Rex (Chris Pine) in hopes to score enough ransom to save the company and the dream of not having a boss.
Energy is the main reason why “Horrible Bosses 2” works in the moment but does not sustain itself in memory. The laughs that the film generates come from the immediate energy with which Bateman, Sudeikis, Day and Pine interact. Each segment of “Horrible Bosses 2” plays out the same way: a scene begins with one character introducing a plot point and then the other actors riff on it until things get loud enough for Bateman to throw cold water on the whole thing as the straight man.
Scene after scene in “Horrible Bosses 2” plays out in the exact same fashion and eventually the law of diminishing returns kicks in. As a change up, the third act turns nasty with an unexpected murder and the return to the plot of Jennifer Aniston’s sexpot and Jamie Foxx’s hustler each to lesser levels of excitement and humor.
I’m being hard on “Horrible Bosses 2” and yet I really did laugh a lot during the movie. Bateman, Sudeikis and Day can’t help but be funny together and the obvious freedom they have to invent their dialogue allows them to bounce off each other in the colorful and familiar fashion of real friends.
Those interactions however, even as they are funny in the moment, don’t have a lasting quality. Nothing about “Horrible Bosses 2” resonates long after you see it. The energy of the moment dissipates quickly after the movie ends and what remains is the vague memory of laughs and some of the nastier parts of the plot that failed to enhance the humor.