Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015) / Comedy-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: R for crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nudity, drug use and some violence
Running Time: 93 min.
Cast: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, Jason Jones, Gillian Jacobs, Collette Wolfe, Bianca Haase, Kumail Nanjiani, Kellee Stewart, Christian Slater
Small role: Chevy Chase, Lisa Loeb, Jessica Williams, Thomas Lennon, Josh Heald
Director: Steve Pink
Screenplay: Josh Heald
Review published February 21, 2015
It's a sequel no one needed, but, as Hollywood is wont to do, success breeds follow-ups, and what was once a premise that was flimsy but with just barely enough ideas to cover a full-length feature has the unenviable position of starting Round 2 with the creativity tank on 'Empty'. To cover over the fact that there's nothing new to see here, what we get are tons and tons of sidebar distractions, none of which are particularly funny, and some of them quite tasteless to the point of eliciting either annoyance or anger, depending on how grating you find gags that dip heavily into dick/fart jokes, bestiality references, gay fright gags, and a number of instances of splattered semen and puke. It's pretty easy to guess why John Cusack took a pass on returning.
Following up a few years after Hot Tub Time Machine, two of the four tub-trippers are now wildly successful entrepreneurs, with foul-mouthed druggie d-bag Lou Dorchen (Corddry, Sex Tape) a tech billionaire and hair-metal front man, while Nick Webber (Robinson, Get On Up) has a series of smash pop hits, both of them using knowledge they've gained of what will work for the times to jump ahead of everyone else on the cutting edge of industry. After an assassination attempt on Lou results in him with his genitalia blown away by a shotgun (yuk!), he, along with son Jacob (Duke, Kick-Ass 2) and Nick, get back in the hot tub to go back a day to stop the perpetrator before he can carry through with it, only to discover they don't have the ability to control where and when they go, and end up ten years in the future.
One of the main problems with Hot Tub Time Machine 2, is that the first film generated many of its laughs from the nostalgia-based humor due to the men returning to their teenage years in the mid 1980s. Instead, the bulk of this film is spent in a fairly low-tech and uninspired version of 2025, in which the only true difference that we can readily see is that all automobiles are smart cars that run on emotion -- if you're nice to it, it will be nice to you.
Another big problem is that, without Cusack, most of this effort relies on Corddry to shoulder the load of the fun, and as talented as Corddry is in a supporting role as the hot-head egotist, making him the main ingredient means that most of the gags will be mean-spirited and vulgar. Meanwhile, perhaps because the script had originally included Cusack's original character of Adam in part of the storyline, we get a replacement in his son, Adam Jr., played by Adam Scott (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty). Unfortunately, the character is DOA, with almost no redeeming comedic angles to bring to the table, relying on Scott to mug wildly, especially in a scene in which he is given a highly potent hallucinogenic drug that makes him trip out for hours.
The jokes not only feel like leftovers from the first film, they keep getting callbacks in this film, trying in vain to squeeze the comedic juice out of a lemon that's already been used and tossed away. The car joke seems desperate enough, but so many references to penises will make you cringe with each repeated use, and it gets especially unsavory when rape gags enter the scene, and not just once.
You can't really expect a film with this title to be one of the more acclaimed movies of the year, but it should definitely be a lot more fun than it ends up being. Theatergoers around the world may flock to the nearest hot tub on the hope they can travel back the two hours to stop themselves from purchasing a ticket to this painfully laugh-less sequel.
©2015 Vince Leo