“Horrible Bosses 2” good for a couple of chuckles

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First Posted: 11/30/2014

The original “Horrible Bosses” was OK. Almost aggressively so. It was a movie that consistently met expectations without the hassle of exceeding them. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day didn’t strain too hard to give us the same gently amusing things they’ve done in several movies and TV shows, while Jennifer Aniston said filthy things while sporting flattering bangs. It was a perfectly serviceable 98 minutes. In fact, I’m sure that most people are fine with the film in that same mindless way people are fine with ordering a Pepsi if they didn’t realize the restaurant doesn’t serve Coke. “Horrible Bosses” was the kind of movie that most people will like but very few will ever love.

“Horrible Bosses 2” is basically more of the same but maybe a little less so. Like its predecessor, “Horrible Bosses 2” does what it’s supposed to do and does it competently, but as sour, not-so-funnyman Billy Crystal once told Stuttering John Melendez, “you’ll all laugh and have a good time, but it’s not fun.”

No longer under the thumb of their oppressive — and some might say ‘horrible’ — bosses, Bateman, Sudeikis and Day have gone into business for themselves and created The Shower Buddy an ‘As Seen on TV’-type device that dispenses shampoo and conditioner directly from a shower head. After awkwardly demonstrating the device on a local morning show, The Shower Buddy raises the interest of slimy father and son investors Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine who promise to buy 150,000 units of the gadget only to renege on the deal. With no legal recourse and their livelihoods at stake, the trio come up with a half-baked plan to kidnap Pine and hold him for a ransom. However, after a comically inept home invasion in which Bateman, Sudeikis and Day accidentally gas themselves with nitrous oxide while hiding in Pine’s closet, they discover that Pine is all too willing to participate in his own kidnapping and financially ruin his father.

To “Horrible Bosses 2’s” credit, the film is — unlike its creative inspiration “The Hangover” series — not a straight up rehash of “Horrible Bosses”. But, with that said, the film still plays like a greatest hits package. Too often the central storyline is derailed or briefly put on hold so that Bateman, Sudeikis and Day can reunite with some of the characters from the first film. Watching Kevin Spacey once again sleepwalk through his “Swimming with Sharks” schtick (while not so subtly reading from a script) and hearing Aniston mention the possibility of somebody ‘making number two on her chest’ is shrug-inducing at best, unfunny at worst. But then, the new material doesn’t fare much better. A gag revolving around a malfunctioning Shower Buddy plays like something from a late period “Austin Powers” sequel at its laziest and a bit where the trio struts in slow motion as everything moves at a normal pace around them seems like it was ripped-off from a Friedberg and Seltzer parody movie.

Additionally, the film consistently wastes funny people like Keegan Michael Key and somehow makes Waltz forgettable, which is an impressive feat considering that Waltz managed to be memorable even in tossed off garbage like “The Green Hornet”. It’s also a shame that Waltz and returning cast member Jaime Fox do not share one of those ‘don’t-I-know-you-nah-[shakes head]’ moments? The movie was hacky enough to include a fake slo-mo gag, surely it didn’t think it was too good not to throw that into the mix.

It should be noted that “Horrible Bosses 2” isn’t a bad movie. Part of what keeps the movie so watchable is the loose, improvisatory energy between Bateman, Sudeikis and Day. Even though Day’s freaked-out motormouth routine is quickly becoming stale, Bateman’s pissy, uptight persona is well past its expiration date and Sudeikis is slowly morphing into a millennial Joe Piscopo, they’re still an oddly effective comedy team. Besides, it’s just amusing to watch these three bounce off each other. Nonetheless, “Horrible Bosses 2” shouldn’t be seen in theaters. It shouldn’t even be watched on Netflix. It should be watched, unintentionally, about a year from now on HBO after you’ve slipped into an “Interstellar” induced coma. Sure, you’ll miss the first twenty minutes but you’ll have no expectations, you’ll be mildly entertained and you’ll promptly forget about it. Just like our dear, sweet angel, God intended.