What do you get when you take an outlandish premise that every middle class American can relate to, mix it with a cast chock full of more diverse talent than any other comedy in recent memory and let them both free to wander where the wind takes them? That would be the original Horrible Bosses which, back in 2011, stuck out to me as one of my favorite comedies so far that year. It was just effortless. And that is saying a lot in a summer that also counted Bridesmaids among its hits. The film was immediately funny and fast paced with a cleverly written script that gave the summer season a feeling the raunchy R-rated comedy was here to stay. Naturally, after this type of high came the downslide with the less broad, but not as bad as everyone says Bad Teacher and the truly terrible Change-Up in which Jason Bateman also starred. Every year we get this slew of raunchy summer comedies intended for the masses that studios have thought we craved since Wedding Crashers truly revitalized their appeal, but only a couple, if any, ever break out to become genuinely funny over time or command real staying power. I liked Horrible Bosses the first time I saw it and probably watched it two or three more times once I bought it on blu-ray, but did it have the staying power of such recent classics that have also commanded sequels such as 21 Jump Street or Ted? Maybe not, but much like with the fellas from the Hangover series I simply like having the opportunity to hang out with these characters so a sequel seeing Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), Nick (Bateman) and Dale (Charlie Day) get into more mischief was completely acceptable and more than justified if not really necessary. At all.

From left: Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine
in Horrible Bosses 2.
So, the problem is how do you make a sequel to a movie that so clearly captured a one-time event in the lives of our three protagonists? Well, with writer/director Sean Anders (That's My Boy, Sex Drive) taking over for Seth Gordon he has put the boys in the position of attempting to be their own bosses. With this set-up we are given The Shower Buddy, a car wash-like shower head that is pretty much dead on arrival thanks to a company name that wasn't thought through and cause for concern once said aloud. The guys are feeling down on their luck until they get a call from Rex Hanson (Chris Pine) who, along with his father Burt (Christoph Waltz), run a very successful business in which they take ownership of products by paying the inventors one lump sum, export the manufacturing of that product to China and pulling in all the profits. Nick isn't too keen on the thought of handing over their brainchild and while Rex is ready to let them go, Burt admires their commitment to making the products themselves and so he promises he will invest if the boys can churn out 100,000 units within a certain amount of time. With that, the dimwitted duo of Kurt and Dale along with reluctant leader Nick get a business loan and go through the motions of leasing a warehouse, hiring employees and building their stock to meet Burt's request. Naturally, as the boys are feeling good and run to celebrate with Burt as they've finished his order early he backs out of the deal claiming he never signed an agreement thus leaving Nick, Kurt and Dale with an outstanding loan and a business in foreclosure where Burt will be able to scoop up their inventory and sell them making more of a profit than he ever would have been able to being in business with the three of them. After a stunt like this there is only one thing the guys can think of to do and that's go to Dean Motherf*#$&r" Jones (Jamie Foxx) to get advice on how to exact revenge.

What makes these films work so seamlessly is the way in which each of our leads work for and against one another. Bateman is so clearly the outsider of the group as Day and Sudeikis have seemingly dumbed-down their characters from the first film. It may be for lack of not seeing the original in over three years or so, but in the first both Kurt and Dale still seemed to be competent adults prone to certain qualities more than others setting them apart as comically inclined. Here though, Sudeikis goes for an all out idiot who's vulgar brain constantly reverts things to their most sexual and will spell out idiotic conclusions to questions posed by either the tired Nick or the energetic and inquisitive Rex. Day's Dale on the other hand is the only one of our trio to now have a wife and family (which was something I enjoyed about the first film as it never allowed domestic issues to become entangled in the plot) which puts him in some awkward positions, but doesn't add or take away from the fact that he contributes nothing of value to the prime directive. Christoph Waltz is surprisingly given very little to do here, which is a real shame, while major contributions by Pine and Jennifer Aniston only add to the festivities. Foxx also gets a little more to do this time around which is fun given his inherent charisma and the precise perks of the character, but after seeing Pine in Stretch earlier this year his comedic talent is something to be appreciated and not overlooked in the future. As Rex, his spoiled rich kid routine only hits home the small social commentary the film contains concerning the one percent and him taking advantage of the little people. As for Aniston, she continues to go all out in this against type role that is shocking not only for the person speaking, but for the depths of the issues brewing within this character who concerns herself little with thinking of them as issues.      

Dr. Julia (Jennifer Aniston) enlightens Dale (Charlie Day) to the existence of coma boners. 
The bottom line is, I laughed and I laughed a good amount at what could have essentially been a rehashing of the original.  Instead, Anders chooses to take these characters and give them something only slightly similar to do so as to keep in line with the theme of the series, but even the previous style in which the first film was approached has changed due to the nature of the story. Instead of going for something as boldly as Gordon did Anders keeps it more conventional, but he also makes it feel more free-flowing and loose. The maturity level has dropped and the frequency of the laughs is only affected positively. Anders knows that the dysfunction is clearly the charm of this gang and that the three leads are so willing to go after every joke that presents itself pushes the main intent of the film to it's comfortable landing. The film never feels very stout or profound, but of course it's not meant to. This, again, is a flighty 100-minute R-rated comedy that flies by the seat of its pants and allows the actors improvisations to guide its comedy as much as the written script. Though it never felt like a sequel to Horrible Bosses was necessary we can at least look at this as a good excuse to do what so many people enjoy about going to the movies and that is the nearly two hours of hilarious escapism. It's true, there is nothing revelatory about the film as Bateman still delivers those simple lines with dryness as he spins them into comedic timing gold and Sudeikis is still the attractive one who could, but it is too dumb and inappropriate to land a chick while Day's shrill-voiced, spastic antics again steal a fair amount of the thunder. Best enjoyed with a big crowd, I didn't want to stop hanging out with these guys and as one of the strongest weapons in a comedy directors arsenal: to have characters you want to hang out with and see succeed Horrible Bosses 2 accomplishes that, once again, to the fullest.

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