Usually I'd complain about a sequel repeating too much of what made the first movie work. Horrible Bosses 2 is a different sort of disappointing, a sequel that doesn't repeat enough.
In 2011's original comedy, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day played schlubs plotting to murder each others' employers. This time there's one boss and it's kidnapping, which in black comedy terms isn't nearly as funny as murder.
Horrible Bosses 2 has fewer directions for the naughtiness to veer, a tamer Jennifer Aniston, an okay Jamie Foxx and a briefer Kevin Spacey, shoehorned in as reminders of the original's raunchy amusement. The sequel is merely crude for crudeness' sake, lazy as they come.
This time Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) are striking out on their own, inventing an all-in-one shower buddy. A disastrous TV appearance nonetheless draws the attention of a retailer (Christoph Waltz) and his flunky son (Chris Pine). Naturally they fleece the heroes, who swear revenge by holding the son hostage.
At times it seems director Sean Anders turned on the camera and left the set, letting Bateman, Sudeikis and Day riff, then sorting it out in the editing room. Any doubt about Horrible Bosses 2's failure as comedy is erased by the insertion of end credits bloopers, a tell-take sign of mediocrity since Cannonball Run.
Contact Steve Persall at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.