Horrible Bosses 2

The idiots are back. Not since the Coen Brothers’ 2004 debacle The Ladykillers has such a motley assortment of imbeciles attempted to pull off a crime. Horrible Bosses 2 reunites put-upon schlubs Kurt, Nick, and Dale (Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, and Charlie Day) as they attempt to lie, cheat, and steal their way out of mediocrity.

Fresh off trying to frame their tyrannical bosses in 2011’s first chapter, the guys are now attempting to make an honest living as the inventors of the Shower Buddy, a bath-time contraption that catches the eye of investor Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son Rex (Chris Pine). But when Bert leaves the guys high and dry after promising a huge initial order, the idiots see no other option than springing back to their criminal ways. And of course that means getting some terribly misguided advice from old compatriots “MF” Jones (Jamie Foxx) and Nick’s incarcerated ex-boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey).

(If you’re keeping score at home, that’s three Oscar winners in this cast. Seriously. Three.)

The guys’ plan is to kidnap Rex and hold him for ransom, but things (naturally) go haywire when Rex decides that he wants in on the action, and that forces the idiots even farther down the rabbit hole of ludicrous-ness; they spiral out of control trying to put together a fool-proof (er, foolhardy) plan to still get what they came for.

While there is no reason to have high expectations heading into Horrible Bosses 2, the end result isn’t quite the train wreck you may be expecting. There are moments that had me legitimately laughing so hard that I may have bruised a rib trying to stifle it. But then I noticed the rest of the theater was laughing right along with me.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its uneven parts—and most of them occur whenever Jennifer Aniston is on-screen reprising her role as sex-crazed dentist Julia. Screenwriting duo Sean Anders and John Morris (Dumb and Dumber To, We’re the Millers) rely a little too heavily on the idea that if some is good, more is better. Or, in this case, if goofy is good, off-the-wall bonkers (as dirty as possible, please) must be better. It’s not. For every two moments of outright hilarity, there’s a lazy joke right behind it.

Charlie Day, though, is worth singling out, and I trust he is bestowing bountiful gifts on Anders and Morris for giving him all the best lines, which in turn allow him to upstage everyone else from start to finish.

Anders, who also directed, has earned back the goodwill he lost by helming 2012’s Adam Sandler-led failure That’s My Boy, but he just can’t seem to make everything mesh together as well as it could have. The finished product may be too uneven to be considered an unqualified success, but there’s no real crime in that… because when it’s funny, Horrible Bosses 2 is really, really funny. And sometimes that’s plenty.

3.5/5 stars