Horrible Bosses 2’ returns with more awfulness

The boys are back, unfortunately.

One and a half stars

Horrible Bosses 2 Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day. Directed by Sean Anders. Rated R. Now playing.

The original Horrible Bosses had a simple, catchy premise—three regular guys decide to kill the bosses who are making them miserable—even if it ended up squandering all of that potential. Horrible Bosses 2 doesn’t even have that much going for it, and it doesn’t have any good ideas to offer as replacements. After not actually killing their bosses, friends Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) go into business for themselves, but when they get screwed over by a rich investor (Christoph Waltz), they conspire to kidnap his douchebag son (Chris Pine) in retaliation. Along the way, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey reprise their roles from the first movie in the most contrived ways possible.

Aniston in particular is saddled with the movie’s most unpleasant and degrading material, which she delivers with what looks like a forced smile. The lazy, tasteless jokes are matched by the haphazard plotting, which recycles several elements from the first movie. Waltz is wasted as the nominal villain, and while Pine is perfectly cast as the smarmy pretty boy, his character’s actions don’t make a ton of sense. Once again, the movie pulls back from having the main characters do anything truly reprehensible—other than subjecting the audience to their vile, unfunny presences.

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