The original Horrible Bosses was a surprise hit back in 2011. It had a great premise, some nice jokes and three leads that had excellent comedic chemistry with one another. Nowadays, whenever a film finds success, it seems like a sequel is inevitable, which brings us to Horrible Bosses 2. The majority of the cast is back this time around, but stepping in for original director Seth Gordon is Sean Anders. The script, written by Anders and John Morris, doesn’t feel as fresh as the first time around when it comes to the humor. Luckily, the cast still works great together and they’re mostly able to make up for the script’s shortcomings and deliver somewhat consistent laughs. What’s most surprising is how engaging the story is this time around. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s definitely interesting enough to make the film a moderately worthwhile comedy experience.

Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have just designed a device called the “Shower Buddy”, an all-in-one showering aid. They secure a meeting with Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), a rich businessman who says that he wants to be the primary distributor for their invention. After the three guys build 100,000 units to sell, Hanson backs out of the deal and leaves them $500,000 in the hole. Not knowing how to recover their money, they devise a plan to kidnap Hanson’s son Rex (Chris Pine). But once Rex finds out about their plan, he actually wants to help them out and screw over his father.

The film opens with the three friends visiting a morning talk show and demonstrating their new invention. Kurt steps into a makeshift shower and when the water pump isn’t working, Dale gets behind the shower and starts manually pumping the water pump, which gives the illusion that Dale and Kurt are engaging in some type of sexual act. It’s a joke that’s been done a million times before and it’s not particularly funny here. The film does have its fair share of these broad comedy situations that also include Nick unknowingly wandering into a sex addiction group meeting. These types of scenarios really don’t work very well, but the actors do their best to get the most out of the material and they’re sporadically successful at it. Most of the best laughs come from the lines that were clearly adlibbed between Bateman, Sudeikis and Day. These three guys are nothing short of hilarious together and they’re able to rescue a movie that probably would have been an unfunny slog without them. Watching them interact and bounce one-liners off of one another is a lot of fun.

So the humor is definitely not as good in the sequel as it was in its predecessor, but I would actually argue that the story here is much more interesting than the first time around. What really makes the story interesting is Chris Pine’s character and the idea that he would actually help them perpetrate his own kidnapping. It’s an idea that hasn’t been seen too often and despite a few plot holes, it’s actually pretty well put together. A sequence where we get to watch how their dream scenario of the kidnapping would play out is pretty clever and then contrasting that fantasy with how things actually end up is pretty amusing. Pine is absolutely awesome in his role and he steals every scene that he’s in. His character’s a spoiled brat, whose evil father has produced an even more tyrannical son. You’re never sure what his motives are and that only makes him seem crazier.

Of course, there’s the need to shoehorn in every major character from the previous film, even if the script doesn’t necessarily call for it. Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston seem to be having a lot of fun and their performances are fine, but their parts probably could have ended up on the cutting room floor. There are a lot of things that don’t work in Horrible Bosses 2, but I found myself having fun and enjoying the twists and turns that the plot took in spite of these problems. It’s certainly not a great film, but it’s a decent comedic follow-up that doesn’t tarnish the reputation of the original.

Horrible Bosses 2 receives 2.5/4

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