Review: Hot Tub Time Machine 2
PLOT: After having reset history to make themselves billionaires, Nick (Craig Robinson), Lou (Rob Corddry) and Jacob (Clark Duke) once again travel through time ending up ten years into the future where they must work to prevent Lou's murder.
REVIEW: HOT TUB TIME MACHINE was one of those sleeper hits where you don't go in expecting much, wind up pleasantly surprised and when the inevitable sequel rolls around you go in optimistically even though you suspect the one-joke premise can't sustain a sequel. Sure enough, that's exactly the case with HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2. The fact is, the first one coasted a lot on the eighties nostalgia vibe. With the sequel being set in the future that's gone and sadly the cast (or what's left of them) can't quite make the sequel work.
Some credit is due to returning director Steve Pink and writer Josh Heald, who at least try to one-up the original by going ultra dark, sometimes too much so. In this way it's reminiscent of the great BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY, although far less successful. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 gets absolutely crazy, with way more drug humor than the original, a surprising amount of gore (with someone taking a shotgun to the d*ck in the first ten minutes) and even a rape scenario that's darker than anything even from the latter HANGOVER movies. Sadly, only some of it is funny.
One big problem is that John Cusack isn't back. I know, I know so what? When's the last time Cusack was in a good movie? Well, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE actually. Surprisingly, Pink and company weren't able to get him out of his constant DTV-rut, and Adam Scott is brought on-board as the character's son. The issue is that Scott isn't a straight-man like Cusack is. He's too much of a comedian, and paired with Duke, Corddry and Robinson, it starts to feel like the four are constantly competing as to who can be the funniest. A wacky movie like this absolutely needs someone that's relatable, and Scott, who spends most of the movie either stoned or wearing a skirt (a cool future fashion), isn't allowed to be that.
As such, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 just feels like a bunch of gross-out gags strung together. The jokes come a mile a minute, but only around 1 in 20 of them works. That still gives you a couple of good belly laughs, but jokes that fail the first time are repeated over and over in an effort to make them a thing. It also has no heart, which is a big problem. While a gross-out comedy, the first one at least had a decent romance for Cusack (with Lizzy Caplan who's also MIA although Chevy Chase is back for one laughless scene) and a solid arc for Corddry who was trying to sack up and stop being a loser. The sequel tries (very) late in the game to give Corddry and Duke some serious moments where Lou starts to realize he's a drug addict, but when all of them are inhaling pounds of coke with no consequences, with the drugs up to this point being played for laughs, it feels like tacked-on moralizing. It's also dismissed almost immediately with more gross-out gags and a dumb final joke that pretty much makes the entire film absolutely pointless.
Still, there are a few chuckles, with Corddry's early scenes depicting him as a kind of Vince Neil meets Steve Jobs figure being good for a laugh or two. Craig Robinson also has a few good bits, along with a really funny cameo by Lisa Loeb (who looks exactly the same as she did in 1994 meaning great). Speaking of looking great, Pink generously gives us many shots of the absolutely delectable Bianca Haase as Duke's future wife, including one scene that almost outdoes the Jessica Pare hot-tub scene from the first one.
In the end, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 isn't unwatchable and at least has a few good laughs, which is more than I can say for some of the other weak comedies to have recently hit the multiplex. Still, it's nowhere near as funny as the original and proof that not all hit movies need sequels.
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