Starring: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, Jason Jones,
Directed by: Steve Pink
Running time: 93 minutes
One star out of five
MPAA Rating: Restricted
By Katherine Monk
No matter how many times you scour afterward, the filmy scum left by Hot Tub Time Machine 2 lingers like greasy dark ring around the brain.
A sequel to the surprisingly okay 2010 comedy about four down-and-out dudes who are given a second chance at redemption with a trip to the past via the titular spa equipment, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 had some built-in appeal: Escapist entertainment has its place in life, and sometimes, all you want to do is take off your cerebral corset and get naked in a hot bubble bath of silliness.
It’s not that much to ask for, really: A couple of good jokes to keep you listening to the dialogue, characters that prompt empathy, and maybe a plot that doesn’t have to be explained in every other scene.
I congratulate screenwriter Josh Heald for trying to give the target audience of 15-year-old boys a lesson in Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, but why bother? It’s not like it goes any distance in making the premise believable.
This is a franchise about guys who get really drunk in a hot tub, pass out, and wake up in a different time period that allows them to make better life choices.
In this movie, that means more access to boobs.
Though John Cusack is noted absent in the first few scenes, original stars Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke reprise their roles as Lou, Nick and Jacob: Men who used the hot tub to become rich and famous.
But they still aren’t happy. Lou has become the rancid aftertaste that follows a long night of drinking, Nick is struggling with his lack of true musical talent, and Jacob is still angry with Lou for being a neglectful father.
They all need rebirth, and when Lou gets a life-threatening shotgun blast to the balls, the spa reappears like so much Price Is Right merchandise.
This time they are thrown into the future, where they have to stop the person who blew off Lou’s bells and whistle before he disappears.
You can see why Heald felt some compulsion to explain the time-travel element, which he eventually solved by having his characters quote movies such as Looper, but a completely nonsensical premise is the least of this movie’s problems.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 isn’t funny. The big gag scene in the film revolves around a reality TV show called Choozy Doozy. Contestants are forced to sodomize each other in virtual reality before a live audience. Another big show involves trapped school children.
As commentary on the future of popular culture, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 tries to achieve a level of satire equal to Mike Judge’s underrated Idiocracy, which included a show called “Ouch! My Balls!” and repeated scenes of a man getting a wrecking ball to the groin.
Choozy Doozy’s elephant dance with homophobia doesn’t quite add up to the same spectacle, or any degree of satire, because it doesn’t keep step with theme. It only foreshadows its own warped vision of the future by forcing us to sit in an empty tub until the chill sets in.