The Sterling Standard in Movie Reviews 

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All Wet, Not So Hot

 93 Minutes
Rated: R
Directed by: Steve Pink
Starring: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke
Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Movie sequels may or may not be bad, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is that sequels without the lead character from the first film are inevitably a disaster (anyone remember Smoky and the Bandit 3 without Burt Reynolds). The latest sad proof of this axiom is Hot Tub Time Machine 2, a sequel in which the original star John Cusack seems to have vanished into the mists of time itself—and taken almost every bit of the first movie’s humor with him.


The original Hot Tub Time Machine wasn’t great, but it matched R-rated Hangover-style raunchiness with the always intriguing concept of having a chance at a do-over. In that movie, Cusack and his loser buddies used a specially engineered hot tub to go back in time 25 years to the weekend that changed their lives and then tried to straighten things out. As the straight man in a hot tub of zanies, Cusack performed a valuable function, giving the original movie just enough of a connection to the real world to involve the audience and to keep his co-stars’ over-the-top lunacy in context. This time around, without Cusack, the remaining time travelers have no one to keep them in check and quickly go wild. Unfortunately, that wild raunchiness does not translate into consistent humor.


At the end of the first movie, Lou (Rob Corddry) and Nick (Craig Anderson) have been able to remake their lives, and, as a result of their knowledge of the future, have become quite successful. Jacob (Clark Duke), who Lou learns is his son, is now part of Lou’s happy family. Of course, happy families and success stories don’t make for great sequels, so Time Machine 2 starts up today, in 2015 or so, and we find that the polish is beginning to wear off of everyone’s success story. Lou’s business empire is in trouble (in large part due to the fact that he’s essentially an idiot), and Nick and Jacob are becoming quite bored with their lives. All this changes when, at a lavish party he’s throwing, Lou is shot in a certain vulnerable part of the male anatomy by a mysterious figure.


To save Lou’s life, Nick and Jacob take Lou in the time machine on another journey through time. However, instead of going back to the past as before, they wind up going ten years into the future. The explanation of how this occurs is deliberately obtuse double talk that really doesn’t matter. What does matter, after a fashion, is that if they can figure out who the assassin was, they might be able to stop the shooting.. The three soon team up with Adam, Jr. (Adam Scott), the son of Cusack’s character from the original movie. Even though he’s supposed to be getting married in a couple of days, Adam goes off with the other three on their quest.


The “quest” apparently involves going around from one party to another and getting themselves in as much trouble as possible. In every case, the trouble involves sex, drugs, or booze or some combination thereof. Eventually, they do find out who was responsible for shooting Lou, not that anyone cares or that it makes much sense.


Frankly, even though it’s only been a couple of days since I’ve seen Hot Tub Time Machine 2, I’ve forgotten a lot of the details of the plot. There certainly isn’t anything memorable about the film or much that is funny either. Every few minutes, the movie makes a good observation about technology or our current infatuation with social media. But, for the most part, the filmmakers are preoccupied with sex and bodily function humor.


The worst joke is actually an offshoot of one of the funnier observations the movie makes. While in the future, Nick and Lou attend a taping of the most popular game show on television, a reality show called Choozy Doozy hosted by Christian Slater. During the show, the audience votes on which ridiculous stunt they want contestants to perform. That’s not all that farfetched a premise, and Slater is perfectly smarmy in the role.


Unfortunately, the movie completely stomps whatever humor that setup has to death by turning the premise into a crude excuse to repeat the same tasteless joke about gay sex over and over. For, according to the movie, the worst thing that could happen to two men is to be forced to engage in gay sex on national television. That’s tasteless and crude the first time it appears in the movie, let alone the tenth time.


Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was directed by Steve Pink, who also helmed the original, and he seems intent on cramming as many crude, unfunny attempts at humor into the movie as possible. Although the film clocks in at just over 90 minutes, it’s a real slog to sit through. Ironically, the best sequence occurs in the closing credits, when the quartet of less-than-intrepid time travelers goes from one past era to the next changing history (Adam saves Lincoln’s life while Jacob gets it on with Marilyn Monroe). There’s more with and originality in those two minutes than the film’s first 92.


Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke have all demonstrated that they can be quite funny in the right supporting roles. However, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 abandons any sense of restraint and, instead, lets them careen from one tasteless, sex ridden sequence to another. As a result, the movie resembles what you would find left over if you actually drained the hot tub they use to travel through time: something unhygienic, unfunny, and unimaginably disgusting.

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Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015) on IMDb