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HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (review)

hot_tub_time_machine_twoHOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2

Written by Josh Heald / Directed by Steve Pink / Starring Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke and Adam Scott

Ah, the dreaded comedy sequel – no one ever really wants them and they almost never work, but that doesn’t stop Hollywood from trying it with every modestly successful comedy that has a bit more money to be wrung out of it. So I guess it was only a matter of time until HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (the surprising, 2010 hit comedy and time-travelling 80’s teen movie throwback) got one of its very own. As Craig Robinson’s Nick said as the original film came to a close: “This better be the last time my ass travels through time.” If only, Nick. If only.

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 picks up a few years after the events of the original – Lou (Rob Corddry), as despicable as ever, is spending his days running his billion-dollar Google rip-off company “Lougle” into the ground and his nights delivering terrible speeches to his house guests. That is until one particularly terrible speech gets him shot in the penis, and his son/butler Jacob (Clark Duke) and best friend/musical genius Nick (Robinson) take him on another hot tub time machine journey – this time to the future (lol!!) – to prevent his own genital mutilation and murder. Notably missing from this story is Adam (John Cusack), the everyman and emotional centre of the original, and in his place is Adam’s son, also named Adam (Adam Scott). Yup. That’s the level of clever we’re dealing with here.

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To put it simply, HOT TUBE TIME MACHINE 2 is gross, derivative and painfully unfunny. Where the original HOT TUB TIME MACHINE stood out in 2010 because of its willingness to embrace the absurd, surprisingly human, nostalgia driven 80’s setting (that also fed into it thematically) and genuinely wonderful commitment to its sub-plots – the running gag about Crispin Glover eventually losing his arm, and Sebastian Stan’s ski-patrol bully were easily the highlights of the film – HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 instead decides to scrap every element that made it work for people and double-down on its smug, ugly, mean-spirited frat-boy humour.

Gone is the earnest absurdity, and in its place is “meta” cynicism – one of the weakest forms of modern comedy right now. Gone is the thematically relevant setting and kick-ass soundtrack, replaced with an incredibly bland, unpolished near-future that just adds to the amateur vibe of the entire production. I wouldn’t be surprising if half of the script was “Oh look!! Future stuff!! [Robinson improvs something funny].” Instead all we’re left with is a series of contrived, nonsensical plot points strung together by a bunch of talented people trying to turn revolting one-off jokes into something more than just padding designed to turn these random, unfunny sketches into a feature-length film; one seemingly never-ending joke meant as an indictment of our mean-spirited reality TV craze turns into a gay-panic, rape joke that’s far more abhorrent than anything you’ll find on TLC right now.

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The actors do put in the effort, though it’s hard to say whether that’s commendable or even worse. Robinson is an absolute comedy star that needs to be in everything and Corddry is really, really good at being an unlikeable prick, but the standout this time around was actually Duke who somehow – either by his own will, or that of the screenwriter – gets a lot of great moments. He has one Jacuzzi joke that caught me totally off-guard. Scott and Community’s Gillian Jacobs are also in the film, but in completely thankless roles that under utilize their talents; Jacobs has genuine, leading lady capabilities and watching her get brushed aside and then brought back for a stupid sex gag is just sad.

To say that HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 is completely devoid of anything more than the occasional passing chuckle would be an understatement – scrapping all of the good qualities of its predecessor and putting the emphasis on its bad ones, it is undoubtedly one of the worst comedy sequels ever attempted. It’s entirely possible that it could play better for those that really adored the original and could use any excuse to see Robinson improv – seriously, that guy can spin any line into something funny – but it doesn’t make this sequel any less horrendous, unfunny or lowbrow.

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