Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (opening today), sadly, is the movie that I thought I was going to see when I first went into the theater to see the first Hot Tub Time Machine. Let’s face it: A movie with that title isn’t asking you to enter with high expectations. Yet, the first film was a surprise hit at the box office and was delightfully obnoxious, raunchy and juvenile. It was in fact, a very funny movie. Like most sequels, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is totally unnecessary, and it feels like we’ve been there and done that…which we have. But as a rule, comedies should ultimately be judged by one overriding principle: was it funny? The answer: Not nearly as funny as the first film, and barely passable.
The first sign of danger is that one of the stars of the first film, John Cusack, is missing from the sequel. His character, Adam, is explained as having gone on an “exploratory” mission. Whatever. We do get to run into his son, Adam Jr. (Adam Scott), when our group travels forward in time on an alternate timeline – yes nerds, like on Fringe – to investigate the murder of one of their own. The team of friends consists of the selfish douche-bag, Lou (Rob Corddry), the mild-mannered but equally selfish Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou’s son, Jacob (Clark Duke).
Hot Tub Time Machine was not only one of the funniest movies of 2010, it was also a smart parody of time travel and science fiction, mixed with a dose of 1980s nostalgia. Or in other words, a smart dumb movie. The plot did not make sense, but that was almost the point…rarely do time travel stories make sense even when applied to their own unique set of universal rules and truths. Much of that nonsense was overlooked, however, because the laughs came at a mile-a-minute, in a film where nobody at all was taking the material, or themselves, seriously.
This sequel on the other hand, can be categorized as a dumb dumb movie. It doesn’t have anything worthwhile to parody, other than re-hashing themes and jokes from the first go-around. Because the jokes are fewer and farther between, you start to notice the absurdity of the story and the absolute mess that is flashing before your eyes. None of this makes sense – nor is is supposed to, I suppose – but things become so far-fetched that the movie goes from funny ha-ha to tedious.
For example, the Tub – it explains – takes them where they need to go, not where they want to go. But later in the film, they use the tub to travel back in time to be with the dinosaurs, fight in the Revolution, to bed Marilyn Monroe and to basically re-write history as they see fit. This oversight didn’t feel like parody or comedy, but more like a lackadaisical oversight. Nor did they put to good use yet another cameo from the mysterious Tub-repair guy, played by Chevy Chase, who has even less purpose in this film than he did in the previous one.
Duke, Corddry, Scott and Robinson are all very talented comedians, and all of them do have lines or moments in the film that will make you laugh. The film, in fact, has a few hilarious bits in it, none funnier than when Lou and Nick are forced to have virtual sex in front of a live audience, on a reality TV show of the future called “Choozie Doozie,” hosted by none other than Christian Slater. In the year 2025, they also watch a clip of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, now with host Jessica Williams, which is sort of funny given the recent real-life news that Jon Stewart will be leaving the show this year.
But almost everything else falls flat and overstays its welcome. Corddry’s Lou was the best part about the first film, and here, he is just grating. With the limited possibilities of time travel, this definitely felt like an uninspired soak in the tub.
And lazy too. In the film, Lou and Nick have a running joke where they just say “high five” instead of actually doing one. Jacob criticizes their lack of enthusiasm and laziness…the same streak of apathy that seems to inflict the whole of Hot Tub Time Machine 2.
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction
Run Time: 1 hours 33 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Adam Scott, Clark Duke, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Chevy Chase, Collette Wolfe
Directed by Steve Pink (About Last Night, Hot Tub Time Machine, Accepted)
Opens locally on Friday, Feb 20, 2015 (check for show times).