Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Horrible Bosses 2 [2014]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O)  ChicagoTribune (1 1/2 Stars)  RogerEbert.com (2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune/Variety (J. Chang) review
RogerEbert.com (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review 

Horrible Bosses 2 [2014] (directed and screenplay cowritten by Sean Anders along with John Morris) is an inevitable sequel to Horrible Bosses [2011] a comedy that, let's face it, was never intended to be Academy Award material.   However, with a pedigreed ensemble cast, allowing many in that cast to "let down their hair" and either "play against type" (Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Aniston) or play it to the hilt (Kevin Spacey and joining this film Christoph Waltz) both the original and "the inevitable sequel" were more or less guaranteed to succeed. 

So what we have here is an (appropriately R-rated) "popcorn movie" that's perhaps even an adult "revenge fantasy" of put-upon "good people" against the people (mostly "Bosses") above them.

In the original film, conscientious "company man" Nick Hendricks (played by Jason Bateman) is strung along by his scheming Machiavellian "a-hole of a boss" Dave Harken (played by an ever-snarling Kevin Spacey).  His friend, accountant, Kurt Buckman (played by Jason Sudeikis) finds himself working for the spoiled/entitled son of his company's original owner.  If Kurt ever believed in the company for which he worked, said spoiled son, seeking to hire and fire secretaries (some working there for decades) simply on the basis of who'd most likely grant him sexual favors, ripped that loyalty out of him.  Finally, there was Dale Arbus (played by Charlie Day), poor Dale, who after being put on "a sex offender" list after being arrested for urinating by a tree next to a bar after said bar's closing time found his job prospects severely restricted.  Who'd hire "a registered
offender"?  Well, we find out: An employer like Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S. (played hilariously, over-the-top and against type by Jennifer Aniston) who finds his "convicted sex offender" status a "turn on."

So in the original movie, the three put-upon employees conspire to kill each others' bosses.  Since none of them had the faintest idea of how to do this, they seek-out "a mentor." They settle an ex-con "so tough" that he was born with an unspeakable name (played again hilariously and against type by Jamie Foxx) who they meet in an appropriately over-the-top seedy dive.  Much then ensued.  One of the bumbling three's bosses does, indeed, die (arguably by accident), another ends up in prison, the third in sex-addiction rehab.  Guess who ends up where...

The current film begins with the three former employees of "Horrible Bosses" having decided to go into business for themselves having come-up with a show gadget that they call "The Shower Buddy."  (Basically the gadget allows liquid soap to mix with water in the shower-head).  We see them showing-off said gadget on a random morning TV news-show, a presentation that they, of course, horribly mess up.

No matter, they do get a call from a potential investor: a twenty-something Rex Henson (played by Chris Pine) the born rich and not particularly competent son of a vaguely German accented immigrant with the strangely British sounding name, Burt Henson (played by Christoph Waltz) -- honestly, there could have been a fun/interesting back-story there.  Burt the father had made a fortune marketing and distributing this kind of junk.  How?  Well, we soon find out: 

Burt has the three business neophytes make him 100,000 units of said "Shower Buddy" then promptly cancels the order, knowing that the three will almost certainly have to go bankrupt whereupon he could purchase the 100,000 units for pennies on the dollar...

That, of course, enrages the three, and they come-up with another half-baked / obviously illegal plan to recoup their losses: they decide to try to kidnap Rex and then demand that Burt pay ransom equal to the amount that they owed their creditors.  Well, when they do kidnap Rex, it turns out he's "on board as well" to try to get back at his dad and he promptly convinces the three to greatly increase the ransom amount (giving himself by far the biggest cut).  Much (mostly in the form of bumbling incompetence) ensues ...

Yes, there's not much particularly edifying in this film (or for that matter in the previous one).  The films have three "ordinary Joes" plotting SERIAL MURDER (of their "Horrible Bosses") in the first film and KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM (from an "evil Investor that screwed them") in the current one.  Then ever-randy Dr. Julia obviously feels "rather unbounded" (ya think?) by the constraints of anything resembling traditional Catholic/Christian teaching on sexual morality (She shocks / appalls, but like Charlie Sheen's character, Charlie Harper, in Two and Half Men [2003+] or previously Ted Danson's character, Sam Malone, in Cheers [1982-1993] , or Rue McClanahan's character Blanche Devereau, in The Golden Girls [1985-1992], what adult honestly would not immediately see in Jennifer Aniston's character here wildly (and often hilariously) over-the-top exaggeration that's precisely _intended_ to shock/amuse the audience.   In this film, she matter-of-factly asks the three bumbling anti-heroes for "preferences" as to how she "should shave her ..." WHO'D ASK SOMETHING LIKE THAT?  HONESTLY.   It's MEANT TO SHOCK / APPALL and yes, as a result, AMUSE).

SO then, this is NOT (!) a "film for the kids," nor, one hopes, to be an "instruction manual" for "how to lead one's life."  But it is, often, _stupidly_ ... funny ;-) 

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