As unnecessary sequels go, Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t half bad. Once again Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis play three idiots who try to succeed in business only to get pushed around by the Man until they can’t take it any longer and plot a knuckleheaded revenge caper. In the 2011 original, the boys (let’s face it, that’s what they are) were humiliated by a trio of cartoon workplace sadists played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston, who vamped it up as a sex-addict dentist chasing Day’s poor Dale around the rinse-and-spit machine. As payback, they planned to whack their respective superiors. It wasn’t a particularly clever movie—and it was only laugh-out-loud funny in spurts—but the three leads had an easy, fast-and-loose chemistry. Bateman’s Nick was the voice of reason, Day’s Dale was the excitable dim bulb with a voice like a hyena caught in a blender, and Sudeikis’ Kurt was the smug wiseass. A shameless rip-off of The Hangover? Sure, but these archetypes have been around since Moe first met Larry and Curly.
Not surprisingly, the sequel sticks pretty much to the formula. Itching to be their own bosses, the guys invent a ”Shower Buddy,” which conveniently dispenses shampoo and conditioner directly from the showerhead. A scheming billionaire (Christoph Waltz, looking like a Viennese Geraldo Rivera) screws them over, so they decide to kidnap his spoiled son (Chris Pine) until… Honestly, the plot’s kind of beside the point. In fact, the least hilarious moments are the ones that director Sean Anders (Sex Drive) puts the most effort into, like a lame, long-winded laughing-gas bit and encore appearances by Spacey, Aniston, and Jamie Foxx, who all should have quit while they were ahead. Instead, it’s the small, tossed-off moments—Bateman’s deadpan mugging, Day’s frenzied cluelessness, and Sudeikis’ smarmy one-liners—that land the best. See what you get for trying too hard? B-