Your enjoyment of “Horrible Bosses 2” is almost wholly dependent on your tolerance for clusters of funny actors babbling, riffing — and in the case of Charlie Day, screeching — all at once.
That’s how they communicate. And if we get headaches listening to them, imagine how they’re suffering for their art.
Because it isn’t about bosses at all this time. But those poor working schlubs Nick, Kurt and Dale are still getting stiffed. As bad at it as they were at the last time around, these clowns still think revenge will taste sweet.
We catch up with the trio as they’re pitching their new gadget, the “Shower Buddy,” a showerhead that dispenses soap and shampoo and conditioner, etc., on local L.A. TV. The two goobers, Dale and Kurt (Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis), are all about how to “be ourselves” on “Good Morning, L.A.” Nick is still the deadpan voice of sanity.
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“Let’s NOT be ourselves. ‘Ourselves’ is a dumpster fire.”
They proceed to prove it when they’re pursued by a home shopping mogul — Chris Pine — and then that mogul’s dad (Christoph Waltz). They are out-maneuvered and stand to lose their start-up company, their dream of “never having to work for anybody ever again,” forced to realize they will “always be (just) cogs in the machine.”
So naturally the two dummies start talking revenge, with the more-sane Nick trying to talk them out of it. They'll kidnap the son, ransom him to the dad and collect enough cash to save their company from the very guy trying to steal it.
“Name one kidnapping movie where the kidnappers aren’t dead or in jail at the end.”
“Nine to Five!”
“OK, name TWO…”
All this set-up is handled in a rush, just enough time for Pine to come off as a preening punk and Waltz as a smiler with a knife.
“I make new enemies every day,” he purrs teutonically. “It’s called BUSINESS.”
The guys have to cross paths with the survivors of “Horrible Bosses.” Start with Kevin Spacey’s hilarious ex-boss/now-inmate, hissing profane tirades of “advice” over a prison-visitation phone, then check in with the colorfully named thug Jamie Foxx brought to life. He is still insulted by the stereotypes they lay on him.
“You’ve got the N-word in your eyes!”
And then there’s the sex-crazed dentist played by Jennifer Aniston, her eyes sparkling at the filthy words she gets to let out of her mouth — or is that the too-obvious key lighting engineered to create sparkling eyes?
There are plans to be made, intrigues, betrayals, cops to fool, and a caper to carry out. Some of the laughs come from the infuriating ineptitude of the trio and the ways they get outflanked and out-thought at every turn. Other giggles spin from the colorful profanity of one and all.
And then there’s all that headache-inducing cacophony of babble. You can’t catch it all, which is just as well. The many improvisations are rarely much more than passably funny. The plot — packed with coincidences both explained and glossed over — doesn’t withstand any scrutiny.
But the original cast — both heroes and villains — are still funny, with Spacey and Foxx flirting with hilarious.
And as the film itself is thin on themes and gags, there’s a big car chase finale and an indifferently amusing collection of outtakes over the closing credits, where Jason Bateman finally breaks his deadpan and Sudeikis finally comes off as clever.