Following the events of the first film, Lou Dorchen (Rob Corddry) and Nick Webber (Craig Robinson) have used their knowledge of the future to infinitely better their lives. Nick ripped off songs from other artists before they were released and Lou has capitalized on advanced knowledge of technological advances such as the internet and Google.
Things seem to be going great for the both of them until Lou is shot by an unknown assassin at a party of his. Nick and Jacob Yates (Clark Duke) use the time traveling hot tub in order to find out the identity of the assassin, but they inadvertently end up traveling a decade into the future. The only reason Jacob can think of for this mistake is that the assassin must’ve come from the future and they must alter it if they want to save the present.
I was late to the party with Hot Tub Time Machine when it first came out, ’cause I honestly didn’t expect it to be all that good. I was surprisingly entertained, though. It didn’t get bogged down in the mechanics of time-travel, nor did it need to, but still created its own rules within the genre to follow. Most importantly, though, it was completely aware of its silliness. While reviews for the film were favorable and on a $36 million budget, it earned a modest success at the box office, grossing around $64 million, it’s not like it was a huge critical/box office darling that demanded a sequel. But we finally got one anyway, this time sans John Cusack, the lead from the first film.
And what a dull, laughless crap-bomb it is.
Director Steve Pink and writer Josh Heald are both at the helm once again, and stars Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke return as well. Filling in the void left by Cusack is Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott as Cusack’s son in the future. Pink is capable of putting together a comedy. He directed the first film, wrote High Fidelity and directed last year’s remake of About Last Night, which, while not perfect, was an improvement over the Rob Lowe/Demi Moore original. The same can be said for the cast; Corddry, Robinson, Duke and Scott (who’s performance is embarrassing to say the least) all have talent, yet I guess everyone’s effort didn’t get the memo to show up on set as well.
It’s not like the first film was this high-concept idea that blew everyone’s minds, but it at least was funny. Yeah, it came with the raunchy jokes that are expected in an R-rated comedy, but it also came with ’80s nostalgia jokes, the utterly charming Lizzy Caplan and two hysterically funny supporting roles from Crispin Glover and Chevy Chase (who appears in just one wasted scene). Hot Tub Time Machine 2 commits the exact same sin that Horrible Bosses 2 did – just repeat the same jokes that were done in the first film. So that’s what we get here: more “You look like…” jokes than we need, another forced sex gag between Corddry and Robinson, and film references that aren’t really jokes but just references to time-travel films.
Yeah, for God’s sakes, even the film references are too lazy to even try to be funny.
Oh, yeah, and of course, every other joke has to do with dicks. Getting shot in the dick, sucking a dick, grabbing a dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dicky dick.
Oh, did I say jokes? My bad. That would mean they were funny.
What really kills this film is John Cusack’s absence, whose character is lazily written off here. Some have said Cusack didn’t want a part in this film, but apparently, he stated he wasn’t asked to be in the sequel, which makes more sense than him refusing to be in it. I mean, hell, his last ten year’s worth of filmography shows less selectivity than even Nicolas Cage, so clearly saying no to a film offer is not in his vocabulary at the moment. I’m not trying to knock Cusack ’cause when he’s on his game, he’s a very talented actor, and he was one of the highlights of the first film. He was the relatable straight-man anchor that allowed the more goofier characters such as Corddry and Duke to play off of him, kinda like how Jason Bateman was to Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day in the Horrible Bosses films. That’s not to say having Cusack return means it’s an automatic hit. Bateman returned for Horrible Bosses 2 and that film sucked. But why they wouldn’t ask Cusack back, when he was a big part of why the first film worked, is puzzling.
Now, Pink and Heald have the story revolve around Corddry’s Lou Dorchen, and that’s what brings it all down. As a supporting character, Dorchen worked ’cause Corddry played off of Cusack’s grounded performance. However, as the central role of the sequel, we’re supposed to care about this guy’s dilemma, yet he’s such an annoying, loud-mouthed creep that you don’t care whether he lives or dies, who the identity of his assassin is, and there’s nothing believable about his obligatory quick change of heart moment near the end of the film.
Also, this is yet another case of the trailers giving away the final moment of the film. Thank you, Paramount marketing team.
Sure, the first Hot Tub Time Machine was absurd, but it also had chemistry, heart and most importantly laughs. Its sequel, on the other hand, has as many laughs as you’d expect to find in a Darfur documentary, and thank God for all of us this shallow pile of crap sets itself up for a third entry. Even at just 90 minutes, it dragged on and on and on for so long it felt like an eternity with a few more years added on. If only I could jump in that hot tub and go back in time before I was born to when my parents first met, so I could talk them out of seeing each other. That’s the only way I know of for certain to erase any possibility there is of me being alive today to see this movie.
I give Hot Tub Time Machine 2 a D- (½★).