(US - 2014)
Directed by Sean Anders. Written by Sean Anders and John Morris. Cast: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Banks, Keegan-Michael Key, Lindsay Sloane, Kelly Stables, Lennon Parham, Rob Huebel. (R, 108 mins)
As pointless sequels go, HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 isn't as stultifyingly unfunny as last year's ANCHORMAN 2, but in its own way, it's just as depressing. ANCHORMAN 2 was astoundingly bad, but that was due as much to the material as the creators' monumental self-indulgence and the misguided belief that what they were doing was setting new standards in comedic brilliance. After one of the most prolonged and aggressively obnoxious ad campaigns in cinema history, ANCHORMAN 2 was a stunning misfire that Ron Burgundy fans would rather just avoid discussing than admit how terrible it really is, and though I'm sure a burgeoning cult of apologists will someday declare it Will Ferrell's Pinkerton, it's a reassessment that's been very slow in its formation. But if nothing else, for all its infinite faults, ANCHORMAN 2 had ambition, whereas HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 is coasting from the start. Were there really enough unanswered questions and dangling plot threads from HORRIBLE BOSSES to justify a sequel? The 2011 original was an inspired and darkly hilarious look at three average guys reaching their breaking points with their abusive, asshole bosses. It was a funny and mean farce that allowed the actors in the title roles--Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey--to let it rip in ways they never had onscreen before, with the possible exception of Spacey, who was cast because he's so good at playing this kind of asshole. There's really nowhere to take HORRIBLE BOSSES 2, so nowhere is exactly where it goes. File it with the likes of CADDYSHACK II, WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S II, and BLUES BROTHERS 2000 on the list of thoroughly disposable, instantly forgettable sequels that everyone involved--from the cast to the intended audience--approaches with a sigh and a shrug like it's a clock-punching obligation.
"Maine Justice" judge from SNL, while Bateman, again cast as the Michael Bluth-ian voice of reason (in other words, "Jason Bateman"), just looks tersely irritable throughout, like he'd rather be anywhere else.
"How You Like Me Now?" or '70s and '80s FM radio staples used for lazily ironic laughs, in this case, Toto's "Hold the Line" and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "If You Leave"? "I guess that'll do," seems to be this film's mission statement. The very definition of "perfunctory," it's the kind of movie you'll have already forgotten about by the time you exit the multiplex. Even the end-credits bloopers are boring, except for one crack Sudeikis makes regarding Bateman's acting that ends up being the one legitimate laugh-out-loud moment in the entire film.