Five years after its first incarnation, “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” attempts to recreate a portion of the $50-million dollar success of its cult-comedy predecessor.
Trading significantly on 80s nostalgia (and helmed by 80s star, John Cusack), “Hot Tub Time Machine ” unexpectedly proved to be a minor hit in 2010 amongst twenty- to fifty-somethings, who sought a tongue-in-cheek peek back at their (or their parents’) youth. In the first sci-fi/comedy outing, three middle-aged guys (Cusack, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson) and one 20-year-old nephew (Clark Duke) unexpectedly travel back to 1986, via a magical hot tub, where they have a second chance at changing their future. Although the original film shakily walked the line between crude humor and occasionally clever riffs on the 80’s decade of excess, “HTTM” seemed to ultimately have a positive trajectory, helping its lead characters find redemption from prior poor choices.
“HTTM 2” brings back Corddry, Robinson, and Duke but leaves out its biggest star, Cusack, with only occasional references to his character’s (formerly crucial) existence. Corddry’s character Lou, who ended the last film happily as both the billionaire inventor of internet search engine “Lougle” and lead singer of “Poison,” has become an ultra-self-involved, drug addicted tech mogul, who is hated by his wife and son, Jacob (Duke). Robinson also returns as, Nick, a Grammy award-winning producer/performer, whose time-travelling advantage has allowed him to continue to rehash hit records as his own.
When Lou is shot in the crotch (yes, you read that right, as the film “jumps the shark” early) by a shadowy figure at his horribly indulgent party, Jacob and Nick attempt to save his life by taking themselves and Lou back in time via the same time-bending tub. But, instead, the tub-with-a-mind-of-its-own, takes the guys 10 years into the future, where they eventually meet up with Adam, Jr. (Adam Scott who plays Cusack’s character’s son) and crudely bungle their way to find Lou’s shooter.
Most unfortunately, the “HTTM” sequel sacrifices its former version’s heart of gold for the crass mind of a very delinquent juvenile. Gross, slapstick adventures involving illicit drug use, engorged testicles, forced intercourse, and full-frontal nudity have no plot payoff and are far more distasteful than hilarious. To their credit, Corddry, Robinson, and Duke, do attempt to energize lifeless scenes with over-the-top performances, but there is really no plot to work with — only strung-together (and strung-out) unfunny bits. While a few scenes are vaguely humorous (in particular, one 90’s star’s cameo and the end-credits’ montage), other minorly successful plot sequences could have been so much better had they not been edited into vaguery (e.g., the nonsensical future car’s “Terminator”-like tracking of Lou). Nevertheless, the vast majority of the 93-minute gross-fest is just plain foul.
If you want nonsensical fun, you are much better suited to seek out the wackiness of Cartoon Network’s late night “Adult Swim.” Better yet, stay home and rewatch the first “Hot Tub Time Machine” — at least you’ll be far less repulsed while having a few laughs. “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” is rated 1 star out of 5.
“Hot Tub Time Machine 2” is rated “R” by the MPAA for “crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nudity, drug use and some violence.”