2.5 stars. Rated R, for relentless profanity and crude sexual content
By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 11.28.14
Director Sean Anders apparently was content to let this film’s three stars — Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day — babble through much of their obviously improvised, rapid-fire dialogue.
Sometimes the results are amusing.
Usually ... not.
Dumb-bunny comedies often aren’t nearly as funny as those involved seem to think, and that’s definitely the case here. Nor are the “even funnier” out-takes, which unspool over the closing credits, as uproarious as Bateman, Sudeikis, Day and their co-stars want us to believe.
This film’s 2011 predecessor was pretty thin gruel to begin with: a potty-mouthed waste of time and talent that was little more than a race to the tasteless bottom by all involved. The notion that it did enough business to warrant a sequel is astonishing, but Hollywood — as always — lives by the quote often attributed to H.L. Mencken: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”
And so here we are, with a second dose of Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day).
This new entry is slightly better, thanks to the presence of co-star Chris Pine. He thoroughly embraces his gleefully condescending, spoiled rich guy role with a breezy élan that adds momentum to this fitful comedy every time he pops into a scene. He’s genuinely funny, and manages to be such without relying on the vulgarity that’s pretty much everybody else’s sole defining character trait.
The plot, then:
Having decided that working for “horrible bosses” undervalues their true potential, Nick, Kurt and Dale have become entrepreneurs with their own home care product: the so-called “Shower Buddy,” just the sort of gadget that pops up on late-night TV commercials for $19.95. Their effort to promote this item on a local morning chat show doesn’t quite work as expected, but the exposure does bring them to the attention of father-and-son investors Bert and Rex Hanson (Christoph Waltz and Pine).
Overjoyed by an initial order of 100,000 units, our three stooges overlook the cautionary step of obtaining a down payment in order to fund this massive production run. Bert subsequently cancels the order — which he intended to do all along — knowing full well that Nick, Kurt and Dale will be forced to foreclose. At that point, the Hansons will scoop up the entire company and all those Shower Buddies at fire-sale prices.
It’s merely standard-issue corporate raider behavior, which Bert cheerfully acknowledges, knowing full well that our hapless idiots can’t do anything about it.