‘Horrible Bosses 2’
Director: Sean Anders
Stars: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis
2 (out of 5) Globes
All “Horrible Bosses 2” has to do is improve upon its opening sequence, which isn’t hard. In 2011’s surprise hit predecessor, Jasons Bateman and Sudeikis plus Charlie Day attempted to murder their respective employers. Now they’re bosses themselves. They’ve started a line of shower gizmos, which is all a set-up for series of hand job and BJ jokes that would shame even a 10 year old — or even Adam Sandler. As it happens, new director Sean Anders last made “That’s My Boy!” a Sandler catastrophe that was so juvenile that it went from evil to embarrassingly half-decent. If that film had been really juvenile, it would have looked like this, which tops off a couple homosexual panic jokes off with some light racism, there only for shock value.
But even if it never needed exist at all, it does get better, and not only because it’s not simply a retread of a movie that could never retreaded anyway. Instead of attempted murder, our heroes have downgraded to attempted kidnapping, targeting the cheerfully evil CEO (Christoph Waltz) who screwed them over by trying to milk his smirking scion (Chris Pine) for a ransom. But they’re so bad that they accidentally kidnap him even after abandoning their scheme. Turns out Pine’s douchebag is really into it, as the means getting even with dad.
It’s not a terrible idea, and there are moments when this is a passable ripoff of “Ruthless People,” not just a craven one. Then again, the busy-ness of the plot stands in contrast to how much visible joy the cast is having. The three leads fire off a couple decent riffs but generally seem bored with their roles — not just these characters, but the types. Bateman has done the straight man who hangs with grotesques role so many times even he seems to be done with it, and the same goes for Sudeikis doing horny and Day doing dumb. (At one point the latter wearily shuffles through another Foghorn Leghorn accident, which he already exhausted on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”) When you can’t even get Christoph Waltz excited about playing a grinning sociopath, something’s seriously off. (Then again, he might have exhausted his serotonin levels while shooting the forthcoming Tim Burton period drama “Big Eyes.”)
And despite taking things in a different directions, it keeps dredging up the past, gratuitously shoehorning the last film’s supporting staff into a plot that never remotely needed them. Kevin Spacey does both of his shots in close-ups from behind a prison glass. It’s as though he filmed his scenes remotely, separated from the cast — shades of one of the great nadirs of lazy sequels, “Cannonball Run II,” where, through the magic of editing, certain actors who shared scenes never spoke. “Horrible Bosses 2” never quite reaches those depths, but if you’re going to make sexual predator jokes — ever, not just right now, in the wake of the Cosby scandals — at least make them jokes.