“Horrible Bosses” was one of the pleasant surprises of 2011 – a raunchier version of “9 to 5” that was one of that year’s funnier films.

Now comes “Horrible Bosses 2,” which isn’t quite on the same level as the original but is still pretty funny. 

The sequel picks up with Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudiekis) and Dale (Charlie Day) looking to go into business for themselves, creating a contraption you can use in the shower.

The trio reaches a verbal agreement with an investor named Bert (Christoph Walz) and his son Rex (Chris Pine), but the agreement turns sour when Bert reneges on the deal, putting the new company on the brink of bankruptcy. Desperate to regain the upper hand, Nick, Kurt and Dale come up with a scheme to kidnap Rex and force Bert to pay a ransom – then use the money to buy back their company.

“Horrible Bosses 2” is essentially the same film as the first one, much like “The Hangover II” followed the same story line as its predecessor. 

Director Sean Anders steps in for Seth Gordon, who was behind the helm for the first film. His style is a little more profane than the original, with a few bits that manage to be raunchier than “Horrible Bosses.” Sometimes these bits go too far, with more groans than laughs, but some of the bits hit the mark.

Your tolerance for “Horrible Bosses 2” will depend largely on your tolerance for the cast, which also includes Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey (whose characters from the original are wedged into the plot to allow all the actors a chance to return and get another check).

Aniston and Foxx are slightly better than Spacey, although neither are quite as entertaining as they were in the original.

Pine gets a little more to do than Walz, but the two newest cast members can’t make up for the void left by Colin Farrell, who was so wonderful in the first film.

Fortunately for fans of the original, the comedic chemistry of the three leads still clicks. “Horrible Bosses 2” is at its best when Bateman, Sudiekis and Day are playing off one another. They really don’t need much to generate laughs, and they do enough heavy lifting to put “Horrible Bosses 2” a smidge above mediocrity.

It doesn’t have quite the same appeal as its original, but it is still good enough to satisfy audiences looking for some raunchy holiday laughs.

DVD dandy of the week

This week’s dandy is the biggest hit of the year “Guardians of the Galaxy” (B+).

The latest entry in the Marvel Comics adaptations is a visual feast with a smart and funny script and some winning performances that gets this franchise off to a roaring start. It’s a near-perfect example of how to make a big-budget summer blockbuster.

“Guardians” follows the adventures of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who was captured by aliens on Earth at a young age and has settled into the life of an intergalactic scavenger hunter.

Quill steals an orb that he thinks will lead to a big payday. The orb proves to be more than he bargained for – Quill becomes the target of a ruthless ruler named Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) looking to expand his kingdom.

Desperate to save his skin, Quill enlists the help of some unlikely allies – including an orphaned assassin named Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a genetically engineered raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), his tree-like sidekick named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and an assassin named Drax (Dave Bautista) looking to avenge his family’s death.

The five allies set out to protect the orb from Ronan and save the galaxy from possible destruction.

There are so many elements in play that make “Guardians” so much fun.

For starters, director James Gunn has created a fully realized universe – a dazzling cornucopia of CGI that makes this world come alive on the big screen. It’s as impressive visually as anything in the “Star Wars” series.

“Guardians” could have easily tried to get by on visuals alone – and it may have worked to a certain extent – but it gets an added boost from the script by Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlmen. The dialogue has sizzle, and the film is peppered with lots of humor, getting the most out of this talented cast.

Pratt does most of the heavy lifting, showing he can carry a film of this magnitude, but Cooper, Saldana and Diesel are good too.

The biggest surprise, however, is Bautista, the WWE wrestler turned actor who shows a comedic side that could elevate him into a full-time acting gig. He’s really funny here, with a performance that rivals that of fellow wrestler-turned-film star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” doesn’t quite reach the same height as the Marvel gold standards, “The Avengers” and the original “Iron Man,” but it’s pretty close. It’s a rousing start for the newest comic book franchise.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language and will be available on DVD on Tuesday.

— To read Micheal Compton’s thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog@mcompton.wordpress.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/mcompton428. Email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.


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