Published Nov 26, 2014By the end of The Hangover trilogy, it was evident that the franchise could coast well enough on the comedic abilities of its Wolf Pack even after the inverted structure of the original had lost its novelty. Similarly, Horrible Bosses 2 plants its three desperate lead characters in a hare-brained kidnapping scheme that would be entirely forgettable if not for the undeniable chemistry of the actors returning from the first film.
Things don't start promisingly, however, as a re-introduction to Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) occurs on a daytime chat show, where a pitch for their new Shower Buddy invention ends in a pretty lame sight gag and the revelation that their company name NickKurtDale sounds awfully racially insensitive when said aloud. Nevertheless, they manage to attract the interest of retail catalogue tycoon Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his playboy son, Rex (Chris Pine).
When the Hansons turn out to be wolves in sheep's clothing, leaving the trio stuck paying back a hefty loan to the bank and the prospect of losing their company, the guys solicit the advice of Nick's imprisoned old boss (Kevin Spacey), dial up their trusty accomplice Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx) and hatch a scheme to kidnap Rex. Since their plan conveniently involves the use of laughing gas, they also break into Dale's old dental office and are given the opportunity to have another memorable encounter with Dale's prurient former employer, Julia (Jennifer Aniston).
Bateman has become a master of the straight man routine from his days on Arrested Development and his two cohorts here provide him with plenty of fodder for his endlessly amusing incredulity. Chattering away at high-pitch frequencies that must make him the favourite comedic actor of dogs everywhere, Day toes his usual thin line between funny and annoying in portraying a character that might as well be his same simpleton from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Sudeikis leans admirably on his sketch experience, relegated to playing a slightly more intelligent version of Dale.
But despite Aniston, Foxx and Spacey clearly relishing their supporting returns, even talented actors have their limitations. Waltz and Pine, for instance, are wasted as paper-thin villains that aren't particularly funny or interesting. Then there's the plot that's gleefully propelled by people saying and doing idiotic things, whether it's the way Dale suggests a kidnapping plan involving a skateboard and a trampoline or Kurt forgetting a key component of their scheme at an inopportune time.
It's all enough to almost make you believe the script might have been written by the same people behind the recent Dumb and Dumber To. Oh, wait — it was.