The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Monday, December 29, 2014

Horrible Bosses 2

With the comedy genre maybe more than any other successful genre, I think the sequel can be a dangerous thing. What was funny about the first one? Can that success and formula be duplicated? Are things tweaked too much or not enough? I'm looking at you Hangover trilogy. Would anyone be truly sad if that series had ended after the first flick? Nope, it's a classic. So what about this follow-up? Let's see where 2014's Horrible Bosses 2 stands.

After avoiding the debacle that was trying to kill their bosses at work, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have moved onto bigger and better things. In fact, the trio of friends have gone into business together, developing a shower product that seems ready to take off on the market. They just need a buyer, and they seem to have found one in Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), a powerful executive with a catalog featuring an open spot for their product. Well, he did. He takes advantage of these business novices and leaves them high and dry, stealing their product right out from under them. They've invested all their money into the business, and now they are just days away from the company and their product being foreclosed on. What to do? The three wannabe crooks head back to a life of crime. No, it's not murder this time around. They're going to kidnap Hanson's son and get enough money to pay off their loan with the ransom. What could possibly go wrong?

Released back in 2011, Horrible Bosses was a solid, funny comedy with a cool premise and a fun cast. I gave it 3 stars but still can't quite put my finger on it. The first movie was really funny but missing that special something. I'll be giving this 2014 sequel the same rating -- 3 stars -- but it's better. From director Sean Anders, 'Bosses 2' feels more comfortable in its own skin. It's a funny premise again where just about everything that can go wrong will go wrong. But here's the guts of it. I laughed a lot at this one. I laughed out loud. I laughed a lot more than I did with the original. I still struggle to review comedies at times, but this one's easy. I was entertained throughout and a goofy premise and fun cast provides some great laughs. And in sequel mode, it tries something different, not necessarily going for status quo. Yes, kidnapping is different than murder, and that's what I'm counting as different. Deal with it.

This one's pretty simple. Do you like Bateman, Sudeikis and Day? Do you like them working together? If you answered 'Yes,' then you're safe. If you answered 'No,' then this might not be the movie for you. Their on-screen chemistry is easy and funny and does a good job showing three friends who have been friends forever. They've got a rhythm when they talk, inside jokes like Dale insisting he always sits in the middle of the backseat ("I always sit in the middle!") and a history that's far before anything we see in either movie. Bateman is the quiet, usually frustrated leader, Sudeikis the kinda off the wall sidekick, and Day (to quote It's Always Sunny) is the wildcard. You just have to go along with things. Forced to take drastic measures, this trio of friends decides kidnapping (or 'kidnaping' maybe) is their best option. Let's do this!

The rest of the cast is excellent as well, bringing back some familiar faces while introducing some fresh blood. Waltz is underused as the money-minded, calculating businessman so the best addition to the cast is his son, Rex, played to perfection by Chris Pine. One of the big rising stars in Hollywood, Pine just brings this crazy, frenetic energy to the part, especially when he takes the lead in his own kidnapping. His chemistry with the kidnapping trio is perfect throughout, especially their scene planning how to pull it off. Returning from the original are Jennifer Aniston as Dale's former boss, a sex addict who takes a keen interest in what Dale and Co. are up to, Jamie Foxx as "Motherf****r" Jones, the trio's criminal muse, and Kevin Spacey as Nick's former boss, now locked up but still offering advice to the bumbling crooks. Cool to see those three back for more shenanigans.

The humor at times is pretty dirty, and a handful of times the seeming improvisation tries too hard. They're going for a big laugh, and it just isn't there, especially when the three friends throw their voices to call with ransom demands. For the most part though, the dead on arrival laughs are over pretty quickly, getting back to the goofy fun. I liked the whole movie a lot, but felt like it really hit its stride in the last hour when Pine's Rex gets involved with the kidnapping plot. Their brainstorming session is a great montage, and when we see how their plan is supposed to work....well, we know it won't. The actual kidnapping and ransom drop is dumb and fun and goofy. Stay tuned through the early parts of the credits too for some good laughs as we see all the flubs during filming.

Definitely worth seeking out. Fun cast, very funny sequel.

Horrible Bosses 2 (2014): ***/****

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