Sequels have had a rough year. With the exception of “X-Men,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Jump Street” and “Captain America,” new entries in existing franchises have been lackluster. Though may have garnered a profit or even become more beloved as time goes on, the returns have been less. If only Hollywood would recognize this for what it really is, sequel fatigue. Not all profitable movies deserve a revisit. In today’s climate where original content and story ideas become increasingly difficult to find, the multiplex becomes a search for which familiar idea most readily registers as a potential good time. The latest sequel of the year is already starting to show signs of perpetuating a lower return. But it actually seems an improvement on the original.
“Horrible Bosses 2” is a continuation of the first film a few years ago. Now free of the jobs that they hated in the first film, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day) are trying to go into business for themselves. They’ve created a device to simplify showering and are looking for investors. They receive a call that could set everything up. They get a loan to secure the facility and create the initial order of 100,000 units. But when they contact their investor Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), the entire deal is shut down. Instead, Bert cancels the order citing that he’ll buy them out when they go bankrupt. Never ones to let it go, Nick, Kurt, and Dale decide to kidnap Bert’s son Rex (Chris Pine) and use his ransom money to cover their expenses.
Given the success of the first film, it isn’t surprising that a sequel got greenlit. The dynamic of the three principle actors makes for great comedy potential. The first time around, the film was solid, but felt a bit forced. But adding Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz to the story this time around keeps the film from avoiding the same problems. Yes, this is a sequel that heavily borrows from the first. The difference Pine makes is surprising. Here he hams it up and remains on equal footing with the leads. His ability to go for broke makes his role every bit as satisfying as the others.
The film seems unlikely to be the success of its predecessor, but a film that elevates the quality of the story before is always welcome. 3 out of 5 stars
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