I would not normally feel compelled to write a review for a comedy – typically, when I enjoy a funny film, I am so busy laughing that I actually forget the finer details. However, Horrible Bosses 2 was one of my favorite movie-going experiences of 2014 thus far – the high amount of negative reviews it has been receiving is baffling! I am no professional film critic by any means, but I do consider myself a semi-intelligent individual that knows a funny movie when she sees one. Some on the review circuit have been labeling this movie as highly offensive, misogynistic, and incredibly stupid.
As a fan of the first installment, my only fear was that the original story would be recycled – we would see Dale, Nick and Kurt attempt to murder new respective bosses, and lacking character development would omit some necessary moral self-assessment. The cameos of previous fave personalities would fall flat, and Dale’s dim-witted shenanigans would come off as obnoxious…
I was refreshingly surprised!
In this sequel, we see Nick, Kurt and Dale fumble through a ransom situation in order to avenge their financial downfall at the hands of businessman, Hert Benson (portrayed by Christolph Waltz). What was redeeming about the plot was that our three protagonists ultimately face their own moral corruption and end up realizing that they themselves must not become “horrible bosses.” The minute I got home after watching this film, I looked up reviews only to find that this point was vastly overlooked. Yes, it was comedic timing, crude adult humor, and blatant one-liners that hit the point home, but was this movie intended as some sort of introspective mind-fuck? NO. Calm the HELL down, supposedly highly qualified movie reviewers!
Another critique I came across was of the way this film could only possibly be funny for fans of the original. Cameos of favorite side characters were supposedly half-heartedly included for base purposes of easily drawing some laughter, and Dale (Charlie Day) was considered overall the saving grace with his charming, unintentional idiocy.
I admit that I was leery of Motherfucker Jones’ reappearance on that big screen, afraid that old jokes would be beaten into my nostalgic mind. However, Jamie Fox again grabbed at my heartstrings with some killer moments, his presence in the film validated by material that almost parodied his role in the first movie, and by hilarious character development. Kevin Spacey’s cameos were ideal for a well-loved character who was incarcerated in the first installment. Jennifer Aniston’s reprisal as the sex-crazed dentist still has me laughing. As for the main characters, they were arguably as relatable as in the first installment; a comically exaggerated portrayal of the working man who wishes to distance himself from the boss-employee dynamic. Day was certainly hilarious and downright adorable, but Jason Sudeikis and Jason Bateman both brought something to the table, with equally funny yet complementary dimensions of this portrayal.
A third critique of this film that downright enraged my very core was that Aniston’s character, Julia, was offensive and misogynistic. Film critics can have SEVERAL seats. I am someone who believes that lines are blurred when it is a female character who derives her power from the objectification of men, versus the opposing side where it is a male character who is empowered through objectifying women. While I as a woman would in no way condone two-thirds of the things Julia did, or argue that objectification in any form is something to be defended on a moral scale, she was in no way meant to be a true-to-life representation of a sex addict. Comedy is not meant to solve its own inherent moral dilemmas, but to challenge it. Julia was a well scripted and endearing character which exemplifies the aforementioned battle ground for double standards in such sexualized roles. Aniston in no way “lowered herself” in this role, she only extended her acting range in the comedic art, and did a damn good job of drawing laughter.
Overall, I believe that the whole point of a sequel is to engage fans of the first installment without heavily relying on old material, and to up the comedic ante in order to keep this engagement going. What would hypothetically follow is positive buzz and a new following. A successful comedy sequel can draw new fans with a story that is easy to follow, and logical reliance upon characters that made people love the original. Unlike other franchise films (looking at you, Hangover!), Horrible Bosses did just this, and honestly deserves a little more love. So go do yourselves a favor and check it out before it leaves the theaters!