Horrible Bosses 2 review: Make an executive decision and see this
Despite a disappointing turn from Friends star Jennifer Aniston, this daft sequel manages to pull off the laughs, says Andrew Johnston
Dumb and Dumber To is still a few weeks away, but Horrible Bosses 2 has stolen the belated comedy sequel's thunder somewhat by giving us arguably the dumbest movie characters of all time. Jason Bateman's Nick, Jason Sudeikis's Kurt and Charlie Day's Dale are so stupid, they make Harry and Lloyd seem like astrophysics professors.
Directed and co-written by Sean Anders - who has also co-penned the new Dumb and Dumber flick - the follow-up to 2011's surprisingly successful Horrible Bosses is funnier, faster-paced and edgier than the original. Essentially, it's a slapstick kidnap yarn, with the lead trio cast as a modern-day Three Stooges, albeit boasting better haircuts.
The plot can be summed up in a sentence: three losers invent daft gadget, sign deal to sell 100,000 of them to Christoph Waltz's scheming retail boss, wind up half a million dollars in debt, and resort to kidnapping the businessman's smarmy son, played by Chris Pine. At no point does logic, common sense or basic decency enter into any of Nick, Kurt or Dale's thinking, though at least this time, they're not plotting to murder anyone.
As expected, nothing goes to plan, and the more the gang try to extricate themselves, the deeper they descend into outrageous - and hilarious - antics.
The three main actors plunge full-force into proceedings. Bateman once again nails the hangdog everyman who isn't as smart as he thinks he is, while the wildly talented Sudeikis and Day are seemingly on a quest to out-idiot each other.
It's rapid-fire stuff, and unlike many current comedy films, most jokes hit the target, with some of the visual humour approaching inspired levels. (Look out for a sublime sight gag riffing on the action-movie 'slow-mo' walk.)
On the downside, the brilliant Waltz is slightly wasted in a role that could have given him great, scenery-chewing moments, though Pine compensates for it with a performance like an acid-crazed version of Rob Lowe's bad guy in Wayne's World. The Star Trek heartthrob is perfectly cast as the smug, entitled, utterly unhinged billionaire's son, Rex.
Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey return from the franchise's first instalment. Foxx and Spacey are fine, but Aniston (below) hits a sour note as sex-mad dentist, Dr Julia Harris. This is the kind of hideous creation only a supremely gifted comic actor could pull off, and Aniston isn't up to it. To get away with her dodgy dialogue, she needed to invest her with the same absurd cartoonishness as Bateman, Sudeikis and Day do their trio of morons. But Aniston mistakenly tries to make her character sexy rather than scary.
Horrible Bosses 2 is not for the easily offended, offering racism, sexism and sexual assault as punchlines, Anders and co-writer John Morris not so much pushing the envelope as kicking it off a cliff.
However - Aniston's rum turn aside - the film gets away with it because the viewer is not being invited to laugh with, say, Kurt for hiring unqualified "hot chicks" solely to sleep with them, or Rex for racially abusing his Asian housekeeper, but at them instead. We are never in any doubt that these are awful, awful people.
Throw in a little satire on multinational corporations, the outsourcing of labour and the drudgery of McJobs, and Horrible Bosses 2 proves to be anything but hard work.