<b>SOPHOMORE SLUMP: </b> Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, and Jason Batemen reprise their roles for horridly hackneyed Horrible Bosses 2.

Horrible Bosses 2 is, well, pretty damn horrible—and not in the loveable so-bad-it’s-good way either. This is the kind of Hollywood clunker that even its (seasoned, professional) actors can’t get behind, and it’s sadly evident in almost every scene.

The story picks up not too far off from its predecessor. We learn that ever-pragmatic Nick (Jason Bateman), perpetual horn-dog Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and neurotic Dale (Charlie Day) have ditched their day jobs for a new entrepreneurial venture. The gadget—a handy two-in-one showerhead and soap dispenser—lands them on the morning news. Not long after, mega-billionaire businessman Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) comes calling. Or, rather, his spineless prodigal son Rex (Chris Pine) does. Dad quickly swoops in to make the guys an offer they can’t refuse: $3 million for 10,000 “Shower Buddies,” due ASAP, and Nick, Kurt, and Dale get to work. Predictably, Bert renegs, leaving the trio high and dry with a week to come up with $50,000 or risk foreclosure.

Having learned one lesson from Horrible Bosses uno, the guys decide not to kill Bert and instead kidnap Rex for ransom. They (of course) botch the job and end up embroiled in a moronic double dupe that (not surprisingly) backfires epically.

The first Horrible Bosses, in all its stupidity, worked in part because of its element of surprise. In between watching three morons squabble, we got Jennifer Aniston gamely playing against type as a sex-addled dentist, Colin Farrell taking on the role of an over-the-top playboy, and Kevin Spacey acting like the biggest jerk known to man. Here, Aniston returns as a sad shadow of her nymphomaniac self. Meanwhile Spacey is relegated to steaming and fuming from behind bars. In their place, we get more screen time (and little actual dialogue) with Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day, who for their efforts can only make bickering look so funny for so long. Jamie Foxx returns to breathe some life into a dying script as the trio’s seedy mentor “Motherfucker” Jones. And Pine turns in a heroically great performance in spite of the material. But sadly, no amount of acting could have saved this story, which reads like a mad-dash attempt at recreating comedic lightning in a bottle.


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