Review: ‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2’ (No. Just…No.)

Remember how bad you thought the original movie was going to be? That.

After altering the course of human history with his knowledge of the future, Lou (Rob Corddry) has made billions but still acts like a jerk. His son Jacob (Clark Duke) is going dangerously down a similar path of destruction while Nick (Craig Robinson) is feeling the guilt of ripping off songs no one else remembers and calling them his own. When a mysterious assassin shoots Lou in the crotch, Jacob and Nick drag him back into the conveniently relocated temporal hot tub to change the past. Instead, they end up in the future without a clue how to fix the real problem: how to make a sequel work without John Cusack.

To create a sequel intended for fans of the surprise hit (and surprisingly good) original film Hot Tub Time Machine, there are a few minimums that should have been addressed. Okay, fine, you couldn’t get John Cusack back for whatever reason, but every film needs a lead actor – and a lead story, for that matter. Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, James Franco, or Paul Rudd…was NO ONE available? Rehashing the same issues as the last film with all the secondary characters makes the film drag out into exactly what it is: genuinely funny people ad libbing their way between plot points and hoping there’s enough footage to fill a ninety-minute running time. In spite of a couple of actual laughs, the result is an underwhelming “nope.”

It’s looks like the cast had a lot of fun making it; too bad it wasn’t as much fun to watch. Adam Scott appears as stand-in for the absent Cusack; the fact that Adam wears a skirt is funny for about a minute. Chevy Chase appears almost as fast as he disappears, pretty much reducing a simple cameo to a cameo of a cameo. The terrible part is, Duke, Corddry, and Robinson are all funny in their own right, it’s just that the premise of the film isn’t funny enough on its own and all the work they put into trying to shore up the rest mostly falls flat. This is the part where someone should have mentioned the Edgar Wright approach to comedy filmmaking: make the scenes funnier by actually shooting the scenes funnier. Watching our so-called heroes walk from party to party on a path of self-destruction was as aimless as the film itself; yes, it’s written into their characters, and no, it didn’t work.

It’s clear that “the future” was on a slim budget, reduced to a few computer graphics and a handful of repainted Smart Cars; there’s even a joke about “the future doesn’t look all that different” since the audience is pretty much thinking the same thing at that point. Sadly, the end of the movie actually manages to be a bit funny, but it’s too little too late. Why couldn’t they have just acted out a montage of ridiculous history-altering moments? Instead, you get a slide show of “wouldn’t it have been funny if” cribbed from The Hangover. If you’re a fan of the original film, be content to remember how it all went in the original movie and pretend the sequel never happened at all – or just “Lougle it” later and read the synopsis at your own leisure.

(a one and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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