MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2’ Retreads And Drowns

Hot-Tub-Time-Machine-2-Review

Film: Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Directed by: Steve Pink
Starring: Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson

Despite the slapdash and lackadaisical aura that 2010’s Hot Tub Time Machine set off, a large amount of enjoyment was found in watching four talented comedic actors stumble over some ’80s shtick. In the sequel, the same brand of frat-boyish humor is employed in a futuristic setting without a hint of charm and one less cast member. The jokes are rapid and raunchy, the rants border on nonsensical, the dashes of drama are toiling, and the sci-fi references are as thin as the narrative. Clark Duke, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson are masters at comedic delivery though, so when the jokes land — which isn’t a lot — it’s due in part to their efforts.

It’s 2015 and Lou (Corddry), Nick (Robinson) and Jacob (Duke) are all enjoying their lavish lives as billionaires (greed and time travel never mix well). After Lou gets shot at a party by an unknown assailant, the trio must take another dip in the hot tub and fix the past once again. Instead of going to their desired destination, the tub brings them to 2025. After teaming up with Adam Yates Jr. (Adam Scott), the son of Adam from the first film, the new team must find out who Lou’s killer is before it’s too late.

As a film that almost completely relies on jokes to keep the scant narrative progressing, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 mostly misses. Remember the running gag in the first where the amigos kept wondering when Crispin Glover’s arm would get cut off? Well in this, that doesn’t get replaced with something more creative. The sequel rarely calls back to events in the original unless they are necessary for context. Instead it takes the same framework that the humor had in the first and fills it with different references and characters.

Callbacks to sci-fi legends like Back to the Future and Looper as well as lesser-known genre material like Fringe are all used to explain the hurried narrative. Jacob takes over as main character at one point during the film as his nerdy expertise starts to come in handy to everyone. The other three characters have no qualms in continually reminding us that Jacob needs to be ridiculed as a nerd in more devious ways. Sure, laughing at him trying to explain how alternate dimensions work to the other characters works for the first and second times. After that, it gets a bit tiring. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 feels like it’s made by people who are too scared to embrace its new sci-fi direction and instead recedes back into a corner filled with scatological and dick jokes.

No comedy works without a cast well-versed in humor, though. Craig Robinson, who was possibly the funniest cast member in This is the End, gets to play the sad sack Nick again with the same kind of charisma he brings to every film or television role. It’s the material that’s not good enough for him to deliver. The biggest laugh I got out of the whole sequel was because of his certain brand of subtle comedy; he’s a man that doesn’t need to yell to get laughs.

Corddry plays the exact same Lou, the person whose pride was the downfall of mostly everything in the first film. That happens again (duh). Corddry milks every retreaded joke for what it’s worth but once again, the material pits him at a serious disadvantage. Especially since the tone-halting spats of drama get placed on his shoulders. Duke gets to exercise his charm a little more in this before falling victim to the series’ worst pitfalls, drugs and suicidal thoughts. Scott as the newcomer seems the most lost of everyone, failing to create anything memorable in a futuristic universe too uninspired to make its mark.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 probably won’t go down as the worst comedy sequel in history (not looking at you, Hangover Part II, I swear) nor will it make enough of a cultural mark to stand the test of time. If anything, it proves as a cautionary tale that more of the same almost never results in a worthy finished product.

GRADE: D+

Review written by Sam Cohen (follow him on Twitter!)

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen is that guy you can't have a conversation with without bringing up Michael Mann. He is also incapable of separating himself from his teenage angst (looking at you, Yellowcard). Read on as he tries to formulate words about movies!
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