Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (dir. Steve Pink)

Posted: March 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

“Hot Tub Time Machine 2” is not as funny, or oddly enough as bound in reality or story, as the first one.  It is largely a collection of dick jokes and jokes about gay panic for an hour and a half, with some humor directed at the film’s version of what 10 years in the future will look like (self-driving cars and Neil Patrick Harris as President).  While the film is enjoyable all of the way through, thanks to very likeable lead actors playing characters we really shouldn’t like but do, it isn’t quite as funny as it should be.  It is funny enough, I guess, but with only one scene of heavy laughter, and a few scenes that fall flat, the film could have been more.

Since the first film, which ended with our main characters using knowledge of the future (their present) to make their lives better for themselves, Lou (Rob Corddry) is sitting on an internet empire that is starting to lose ground to competitors. Nick (Craig Robinson) has been recording hit songs from the future before they’re created by the original artists, but has been reduced to recording songs he only vaguely remembers the original lyrics too.  In a scene seemingly inserting into the film only for me, Lisa Loeb cameos as herself, but since Nick is recording her hit song “Stay” before she can, she has been reduced to the music video’s set cat wrangler.  Meanwhile, Lou’s son Jacob (Clark Duke) is resentful of his father’s manipulation of the time line, and disrespect.

You may be asking yourself what happened to Adam, playing in the first film by John Cusack.  Well, Cusack is seemingly too busy making bad movies that go direct to VOD these days and has sat this film out.  In any case, the plot kicks in when someone tries to assassinate Lou by shooting him in the penis.  In order to save him, Nick and Jacob drag him into the hot tub with the intent of going into the past to stop him from being killed.  Instead, the hot tub takes them 10 years in the future to 2025, where things looks mostly the same as in 2015, except for self-driving sentient smart cars, new designer drugs, and really abhorrent shows on television.

While in the future, they try to track down Adam, but wind up finding Adam’s now-adult son Adam Jr. (Adam Scott), who seems mildly mentally handicapped, wears a skirt over pants, and is just an odd character altogether.  A new foursome complete, they work to solve the mystery and keep Lou from blipping out of existence.

I’m a sucker for time travel movies, and while “Hot Tub 2” isn’t the boldest, funniest, or most interesting view of the future movies have given us, I do like that realistic approach that, yeah, in only 10 years not much actually changes. 2005 and 2015 look mostly the same, save for more power cell phones and my receding hair line.  The actual time travel is handled by having the travelling character inhabit their future bodies, as opposed to walking around a time when they could run into their other selves, which saves the film from falling into the paradoxes that this year’s “Project Almanac” did.  The only issue that really comes up is at the end when the characters start traveling to times they weren’t alive in, which raises the question of whether they’re traveling into other people(ala “Quantum Leap”) or going to alternate universes (which is implied) or what.  Still, you’re not going to this film for the plot, or how well it deals with time travel.  You’re going to laugh and, yes, you will likely laugh if you enjoyed the humor of the first film, you just won’t laugh as much or as hard.

The funniest scene involves a weird game show where people are challenged to do odd things in virtual reality, leading to odd questions as to whether rape in virtual reality counts as rape, and thus the unsettling feeling in the audience member that the funniest joke in the film might actually be a rape joke.  The scene that falls flat the most if a scene of Adam Jr. on a psychotropic drug as the film gives us a montage of weird visuals that aren’t as interesting as the film thinks they are, and is really just a waste of screentime.

I’d estimate that “Hot Tub 2” is 35-40% worse than the first film, but there’s enough chuckling to make the film enjoyable enough, and the lead actors really give their all and are a delight to watch.  The Lisa Loeb cameo obviously boosts my opinion in ways it likely won’t for yours, but it’s my review and I can do what I like in it. As such, my grade stands at a B-.

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