Comedies seldom generate successful sequels, and “Horrible Bosses 2” is a perfect case in point. In the first movie, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day played longtime buddies who band together to murder their hated bosses. Nothing in their three-man crime wave goes as planned, and the results were pretty funny.
There was no place to go for a sequel. That is apparently not a consideration in Hollywood, where profit equals sequel, and hopefully, franchise. The characters aren’t even employed as “2” opens. They’ve invented the “Shower Buddy,” and are looking for investors to get it manufactured and marketed. A local TV appearance attracts the attention of father and son executives Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine, who arrange for the fledgling inventors to get a bank loan based on them ordering 100,000 units up front. Then the investors cancel their order, which will result in a default on the loan, bankruptcy, foreclosure and the chance to buy the same units at a fraction of their price.
No doubt encouraged by how crime went for them in the last movie, Bateman, Sudeikis and Day decide to kidnap Pine and hold him for a big enough ransom to pay back their bank loan. Pine it turns out loves the idea despite feeling under-ransomed. The boys now find their intended victim has become their partner, and he’s somehow calling the shots.
There’s not much original here, and even less that’s funny. The movie smells from the first like everyone involved knew the script wasn’t any good, but assumed they could ad lib. the funny stuff during production. Time for Plan B. Actors always think they’re being funny when they ad lib. Virtually none of this is, and most of it isn’t even tasteless enough to be squirmy. The characters now just seem annoyingly stupid. “Horrible Bosses 2” pretty rapidly deteriorates into a tedious, self-indulgent yawn-fest that feels longer than it is. And yes, the best jokes are in the trailer.
A major opportunity is squandered when the reality of an unfolding ransom drop is contrasted with the “Ocean’s 11”-esque fantasy we’re shown first. Even that isn’t original (the Preston Sturges comedy “Unfaithfully Yours” probably did the gimmick first and best) but there was more potential there than gets used. Other derivative gags, such as silhouettes seen through a shower curtain that look naughty but aren’t (stolen from “Austin Powers”) generally land with a thud. A car chase, which is competently directed but no better, does at least climax with a novel stunt.
As to the supporting cast, Waltz is wasted, Pine’s undeniable charm is stretched to the breaking point. Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston all reprise their roles from the first movie to no avail. Aniston, whose exuberant, over-the-top performance as a sex addict dentist trying to blackmail Charlie Day into sex helped make the first movie, is painfully wasted here.