Horrible Bosses twice as bad as its title

Lazy jokes and predictable set-ups in Horrible Bosses 2, starring (from left) Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day and Jason Bateman. -- PHOTO: WARNER BROS
Lazy jokes and predictable set-ups in Horrible Bosses 2, starring (from left) Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day and Jason Bateman. -- PHOTO: WARNER BROS

Review Comedy

HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (M18)

109 minutes/Opens tomorrow/*

The story: Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) decide to go into business selling a shower contraption. They meet Rex (Chris Pine) and Bert (Christoph Waltz), a father- and-son team running an appliance distribution empire, who promise them a deal. When things turn sour, they turn to former "horrible boss" Dave (Kevin Spacey) and crook Dean (Jamie Foxx) for help.

If this movie about men and jobs were to be given a performance appraisal, it might read: "Continues to underperform; in fact, delights in mediocrity. Immediate dismissal recommended."

The first instalment of this workplace comedy in 2011 - and one uses the word "comedy" cautiously - inexplicably did well at the box office enough to spawn this underwhelming successor.

It baffled this reviewer then, just as it does now, why television sitcoms that feature the same predictable set-ups and lazy jokes are cancelled, while this hour-plus version of the same inane stuff has somehow limped its way into production for a second time.

The director has changed, but new helmer Sean Anders' resume is as you would expect for a movie like this, having written the screenplays for the laughter- free Sex Drive (2099), Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) and We're The Millers (2013).

If those films share a trait, it is that the plots mainly feature male characters who are "good people" (and we know they are good because they have infantile needs, to be fulfilled in infantile ways).

They try to solve major problems with - what else? - a caper so goofy it just has to work.

But it will not work, because they just do not have have what it takes to be bad (because they are good, see?).

They encounter bad people. We know they are bad because they behave like adults. Boo. But adults with sexual kinks. Yay.

Along the way, a slumming A-lister or two will drop in for an extended cameo, winking at the audience so hard they should get eye cramps. They do not act so much as deliver impressions.

Here is Jennifer Aniston as the insatiable dentist Dr Harris, Foxx as the spaced-out Dean and Spacey as the unblinking Dave.

Add to that the "bits" that make up the story - the bush-rustling and incompetent wall-scaling that go with bungled housebreakings; Dr Harris doing her slutty thing, for example - and you have a movie that can best be summed up by the first word of its title. Times two.