"Horrible Bosses 2," the sequel to the raunchy 2011 comedy about three working stiffs trying to off their overbearing overlords, finds the knucklehead trio played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis striking out on their own as entrepreneurs.
Other than a management change, however, movie critics say "Bosses 2" doesn't bring anything new to the table, just more slapstick, vulgarity and occasionally funny bits from its goofy troika.
The Times' Betsy Sharkey wrote, "Make no mistake, despite some well-earned laughs, 'Horrible Bosses 2' is not what qualifies as a good movie or even a particularly good R-rated comedy. But there is more to laugh at in '2' than the first, so let's go with less horrible, shall we?"
She added, "The riffs are laughable, and I don't mean that as praise. They do, however, serve to lower expectations (assuming they weren't at rock bottom going in), which makes some of what follows seem almost brilliant in comparison."
USA Today's Claudia Puig said that "'Horrible Bosses' out-stupids 'Dumb and Dumber To.' ... This ill-conceived sequel to 2011's entertaining 'Horrible Bosses' is base, moronic, insulting and vulgar. It's also cringingly unfunny."
And that's just the beginning of her review. She also wrote, "It feels like the worst kind of lazy, uninspired sequel -- bringing nothing new to the table, seemingly intended only to rope in fans of the first movie ... . But worse than being unfunny and money-grubbing, this sequel is misogynistic and occasionally racist."
The New York Times' Stephen Holden similarly said, "'Horrible Bosses 2,' one of the sloppiest and most unnecessary Hollywood sequels ever made, isn't dirtier or more offensive than its 2011 forerunner. But it is infinitely dumber and not half as funny."
What the movie "lacks in nasty repartee," Holden continued, "it tries to make up for in poorly staged comedy chases and break-ins. It is the Hollywood equivalent of a rambunctious little boy pointing to the toilet and squealing, 'Mommy, look what I made!'"
Adding his two cents, the Associated Press' Jake Coyle wrote that "this gratuitous sequel fails most because [the Bateman-Sudeikis-Day] triangle offense, while smooth, isn't dynamic enough. ... So 'Horrible Bosses 2' goes for whatever cheap, vulgar gags it can collide into. Most unfortunate is the sex-crazed debasement of [Jennifer] Aniston, who lights up the movie but suffers some of its lowest jokes. Really, it's an altogether likable cast, all of whom appear quite game despite the lacking material."
The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday warned, "Abandon all taste and high-minded scruples, ye who enter here. If you're not down with dirty -- and more than a few dashes of dimwitted naivete -- you'll be spit out of luck in a drain-circling spiral of cheap laughs, coarse sexuality and sophomoric japes."
But, offering a glimmer of hope, she said that "even at its lamest and most entitled, this sequel will most likely please fans of the first installment, chiefly because Bateman, Sudeikis and Day are, admittedly, often very funny together."
Among the scarcer positive reviews is that of the San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle, who wrote, "'Horrible Bosses 2' is harsh and tasteless, not to mention broad and shameless, but that's not a bad thing in this case. Softness and good taste, as well as restraint and carefulness, are the enemies of comedy, and 'Horrible Bosses 2' is a very funny movie."
"While its coarseness will put off some people," LaSalle continued, "'Horrible Bosses 2' is the furthest thing from slapdash." Even potentially rote scenes are done "in ways that emphasize the absurdity of what we take for granted."
On this Thanksgiving eve, how's that for something to be grateful for?