While “Horrible Bosses 2” doesn’t exceed expectations, it’s at least passable.

Horrible Bosses 2

C
Rave and Quality 16
Warner Bros.

In the follow-up to the 2011 success “Horrible Bosses,” Nick (Jason Bateman, “Bad Words”), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis, “We’re the Millers”) and Dale (Charlie Day, “Going the Distance”) once again find themselves on the raw end of a business deal. Though they have freed themselves from their tormenting bosses, the trio’s venture into self-employment seems destined to end in disaster when a super-wealthy businessman (Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”) reneges on his deal to fund the group’s patented product. This time around, murder won’t do the trick; so Nick, Kurt and Dale kidnap their foe’s son (Chris Pine, “Star Trek”), intending to hold him for a handsome ransom.

The plot weaves its way through encounters with familiar faces from the first film, creating a scenario in which the gang must seek advice from Nick’s imprisoned former boss (Kevin Spacey, “American Beauty”), as well as fan favorite, “Motherfucker” Jones (Jamie Foxx, “Django Unchained”). In order to pull off the kidnapping, the trio sets out to steal laughing gas from Dale’s old office, which leads to a raunchy and open-minded encounter between Nick and Dale’s former boss, an insatiable sex-addict portrayed by Jennifer Aniston (“We’re the Millers”). While certainly forced for the sake of bringing back as many characters as possible, these run-ins with the first film’s villains and accomplices account for many laughs, especially in any dealings with “Motherfucker” Jones.

The film skates over some important plot points, like the details of the business deals that led to the group’s impending demise. That’s to be expected, but delivering that segment of the story via montage with Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” pumping though theaters’ speakers feels rushed and out-of-place, a lazy delivery of exposition.

Though the film relies on a formulaic structure, “Horrible Bosses 2” takes unexpected risks with many of its jokes. During the opening sequence at a local news station, the boys promote Nick-Kurt-Dale, which sounds awfully a lot like a certain racial slur. The film attempts racial humor throughout, beyond just the shock-value of the N-word, though results are hit-and-miss. Some moments in the film leave one wondering how many writers it took to pull this crap out of the toilet, such as when Kurt and Dale partake in silhouetted oral sex, an age-old gag carried out with more creativity in the second and third “Austin Powers” movies.

Not without its flaws, “Horrible Bosses 2” resides right in the middle of the pack — it’s not a sequel that had to be made, nor is it one that surpasses its predecessor — but the film employs great comedic talent around an entertaining premise and should make fans of the first film laugh, at least a few times. No major complaints here, unless this leads to “Horrible Bosses 3.”

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