Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis reunite for Horrible Bosses 2 (2014), a predictably bland and entirely unnecessary sequel to the 2011 comedy in which three mistreated employees conspired to murder their managers. While that film suceeded in at least partially delivering on its amusing premise, its follow-up does not. Fed up of being used and abused by their employers, Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) start their own business. Their first product attracts the attention of rich investor Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), who places a big order. Unexpectedly, though, he pulls out of the deal and steals their idea, leaving the trio in thousands of dollars of debt.
The only solution to their predicament, apparently, is to kidnap the investor’s son, Rex (Chris Pine), and ransom him back to his father to pay off the money they owe, and reclaim ownership of their company. Original director Seth Gordon is out of the picture this time around, so it’s left to Sean Anders – who was responsible for We’re the Millers (2013) – to pick up the slack. Unfortunately, the finished product is more limp than energised, and the film is a weary slog long before it arrives at the close of its 108 minute run time. The script, co-written by Anders and John Morris, is as paper-thin as they come with little sense of narrative drive whatsoever. There are still one or two moderately funny set pieces making an appearance, but they’re scant respite from otherwise feels like mind-numbing padding.
And it’s mind-numbing padding of the lowest order, with whole stretches of film dedicated to plan hatching and sex addict meetings. Jennifer Aniston returns as Dr Julia Harris and is reduced to playing up the smut even more than she did the first time around in order to draw out even the weakest of laughs. Aniston isn’t the only cast member shortchanged, however. Waltz is underused in his role as the film’s only antagonist, though he’s not really on screen long enough to warrant that title. Pine fares marginally better, while Kevin Spacey, also reprising his role as one of the bosses from the original film, pops up in just two scenes. Then again, regardless of what the title might suggest, the peripheral characters were never intended to be the focus – that’s Bateman, Sudeikis and Day. Their camaraderie produces a chuckle or two, but they’re more exasperating than they are humourous, despite heightened efforts clearly hoping to make up for what’s missing elsewhere. Horrible Bosses 2 is by no means an atrocity, but it’s tired and unexceptional, which is perhaps worse.