Horrible Bosses 2: Comedic sequel underwhelms

It’s easy to tell when a screenwriter is actually trying and when they’re filling in the blanks around a tired, formulaic plot.

“Horrible Bosses 2,” the sequel to the aptly named “Horrible Bosses,” is a fill-in the-blanks kind of movie — largely unfunny and 100 percent a cash grab sequel in a “Spaceballs 2: The Quest for More Money” sort of way.

Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Bay reprise their roles from the original, which saw the trio poorly attempt to murder their terrible bosses.

Scenes between the trio, which worked well in the original film, fall much flatter in the sequel as none of the characters have developed beyond the loose framework created in the original.

The film suffers from the same fate “The Hangover 2” did as neither sequel is able to replicate the humor or maintain the momentum created by the first film despite trying to copy the original beat for beat.

Jamie Foxx, in a slightly larger role this go-round as a vaguely successful criminal, provides the best work of the film and delivers most of the best lines.

Both the old and new “bosses” are underwhelming. Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston are milder caricatures of their already broad stereotypes from the original film, while new “bosses” Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz both fail to bring anything substantial to their father-son roles.

It’s especially disappointing for Oscar-winner Waltz, who cannot seem to gain ground as an actor outside of a Tarantino film.

Hardcore fans of the first film will likely find the shortcomings of the sequel more forgivable, but those unfamiliar with the original would be wise to stay away.

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