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Horrible Bosses 2 review

At least they got the name right: Horrible Bosses 2 is both horrible and a sequel

Pro-tip: If you’re making a horrible movie, you want to keep the word “horrible” out of the title.

The makers of Horrible Bosses 2 did not take that note. Instead, they made a horrible movie with the word “horrible” in the title. The sequel to the 2011 comedy starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day has absolutely no reason to exist; it’s a bored retread of what worked in the first film, without any of the charm, and without any shred of taste. Your brain is better without it.

Set some time after the first Horrible Bosses, Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) have cast away their corporate chains in favor of self-employment. They’re the proud inventors of the Shower Buddy (not the Shower Daddy, though don’t bring that up around Dale; it’s a sensitive subject), a bathing product they introduce to the world via a cheesy SoCal morning show appearance. That’s also the venue where the guys decide to unveil their company’s name: NickKurtDale. Don’t say that three times fast.

All three actors are so used to these general types of roles that they could perform them in their sleep.

(Yes. Really. That’s the level of humor you’ll find throughout Horrible Bosses 2.)

Anyway, the offensively named trio’s product pings on the radar of a billionaire businessman named Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz). He promises the boys a handsome sum of money to produce a multitude of Shower Buddies, only to double-cross them, steal their invention, and change the name to Shower Pal. (Much better name, everyone agrees — even Dale.)

Nick, Kurt and Dale are understandably furious. More importantly, they’re flat broke. How can these horrible people get out of such a horrible situation? Murder is off the table; they tried that once. But kidnapping? Now that’s a five-million dollar idea. With the aid of Hanson’s renegade son Rex (Chris Pine), the boys come up with a ridiculous ransom plot that proves just as problematic as their long-ago attempt on their old bosses’ lives.

The circumstances are different, but the characters and their associated beats are the same. Bateman’s Nick remains the group’s boring voice of reason. Sudeikis’ Kurt remains a morally questionable horn dog. Day’s Dale has three children now, but he’s as much of a spaz as ever. All three actors are so used to these general types of roles that they could perform them in their sleep. On second thought, that might explain a thing or two.

Horrible Bosses 2

Two key supporting actors from the first Horrible Bosses play big roles in the sequel, but again, it’s more of the same. Once again we see Jennifer Aniston as a foul-mouthed, sex-addicted dentist; nothing new here, except maybe a half-dozen new curse words. Likewise, Jamie Foxx’s Motherf–ker Jones offers pearls of crime-committing wisdom at extraordinarily low and bizarre costs; nothing new here, either, except maybe his Pinkberry passion.

If there’s one thing the movie gets right — and that’s still an if — it’s Chris Pine as rich kid Rex.

As the new bad boss on the street, Waltz plays Hanson like he played Hans Landa: bright and bubbly in one instance, cold and exacting in the next. But the character lacks any of the real ruthlessness of the iconic Inglourious Basterds villain. It’s a role that could’ve been played by just about anyone. What’s worse is that Waltz’s energy just doesn’t work here; he’s too upbeat for the movie’s own good. He needs teeth, and brings none, not even a set of dentures. The miscasting is never more evident than in the small handful of Kevin Spacey scenes. The movie needs someone of Spacey’s caliber to provide some real menace.

If there’s one thing the movie gets right — and that’s still an if — it’s Pine as rich kid Rex. His chronic mood swings, his exhausting enthusiasm, and his tendency to beat himself up figuratively and literally provide the film’s biggest laughs, such as they are. Pine’s best known for his action and drama work, but the guy has some legitimate comedy chops; if only he was showing up for something worth his talent.

Related: Dumb and Dumber To brings back your favorite morons, exactly as you left them

Director Sean Anders and co-writer John Morris not only collaborated on this film’s script, but also the script for Dumb and Dumber To. It seems they spent their best ideas on Harry and Lloyd, because NickKurtDale’s misadventures provide only two kinds of laughter: the uncomfortable kind, and the nonexistent kind. The jokes are crude without being clever, the characters unpleasant without an ounce of charisma. The movie is a total miss. Not even the Shower Pal could wash away the horrible stink.

(Media © Warner Bros)