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Review: Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

Directed by: Steve Pink

Premise: A sequel to the 2010 film. Since discovering a time machine, a group of friends have made themselves wealthy by preemptively cashing in on fads and technological advances. When someone attempts to kill them, they travel into the future in an attempt to find and foil the culprit.

What Works: The original Hot Tub Time Machine sent its main characters into their past so that they could relive a key weekend of their twenties. The story of that film divided evenly between a heartbroken writer, played by John Cusack, resolving his relationship with his then-girlfriend while his pals, played by Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke, went on a series of misadventures. For the sequel Cusack is out and so the whole film is Corddry, Robinson, and Duke’s show with Adam Scott joining them in the future. Whatever the problems of this movie—and there are many—these guys do have an undeniable comic rhythm and when they get going the actors are able to deliver a few laughs.

What Doesn’t: The first Hot Tub Time Machine was not a great movie. The conceit of the story was really a gimmick to take viewers on a nostalgia trip through the 1980s with a few gags along the way. The 2010 picture ended with a stupid coda sequence in which the characters used the time machine to go into the past and make themselves successful by creating memorable pop songs and devising key inventions of the 1990s, namely the internet. That coda sequence has now been expanded into a feature length movie. As obnoxious as the twist of the previous film was, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 has the possibility of being a satisfying movie. The film presents an opportunity to spoof a lot of the popular music, movies, trends, and innovations of the 1990s and 2000s and it could have rolled over the nostalgic appeal of the first film for a new audience. Unfortunately, that opportunity is wasted and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is yet another unnecessary sequel that cynically rehashes the first film while playing into many of the worst trends of the comedy genre. Like a lot off the sex comedies of the past decade, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is extremely misogynistic. All the women in the movie are there to be leered at and are cast as nothing more than window dressing and trophies for the time traveling friends. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 features the characters drinking, using drugs, and engaging in other kinds of debauchery in a way that is clearly intended to impress the viewer with its naughtiness. But the film isn’t transgressive or liberating. Instead the filmmakers come across like intoxicated bros entering a bar and announcing to everyone within earshot how drunk they are. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is also extremely lazy. In many ways the film is reminiscent of Grown Ups 2 and The Hangover Part II. Just like the Hangover sequel, the movie transparently repeats the major beats and scenarios of the first film but does not improve them and its humor is frequently mean spirited. A lot of the picture coasts on the familiarity of the Hot Tub Time Machine brand and the characters constantly invoke other time travel movies. This is supposed to be self-deprecating and clever but it just reminds viewers of the better movies we could be watching instead. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is also reminiscent of Grown Ups 2 because it does not seem like the script was ever completed. Corddry, Robinson, and Duke often seem to be ad-libbing. It is fine for comedians to embellish their scenes but the movie has nothing at the center holding it together. The time travel scenario makes no sense and the story is just a series of disconnected scenes. It seems more like the actors are stalling, trying to extend an underwritten script to a feature length.

Bottom Line: Hot Tub Time Machine 2 has a handful of laughs but not nearly enough. The film is an overextended joke that eventually turns sour because of its desperation and meanness.

Episode: #531 (March 1, 2015)