Dir. by Steve Pink - 1 hr. 33 min.
by Clayton Hollifield
You know how, when you get a second album by a band you really liked, and only this time there's a new singer or a new guitarist, how that usually means trouble? That. Or like when your favorite basketball team suddenly trades away their borderline all-star who made everyone around him better, you know you're going to be in for a long season? That, also. In the world of "Hot Tub Time Machine 2," the key missing element would be John Cusack, who was also the only decent actor among the cast. So when you remove the one guy who can act, and bring back everyone else...
This time around, success is not enough for Lou (Rob Corddry), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Jacob (Clark Duke). Lou goes off the deep end (or just continues his trajectory, more accurately), and ends up getting shot in the dick (yes, really) at his own party. Since Lou has possession of the hot tub of extraordinary powers, all three hop in to try and head off Lou's impending assassination. As it turns out, they end up ten years in the future, because they go where they're needed to be, not where they want to be.
First off, the positives. There are some funny bits here; it's not that the cast isn't funny, it's that they can't act. So the dialogue is good, the timing is good, even some of the comedic premises and performances are good. In particularly, I was laughing at a game show called "Choozy Doozy," a scene at an urgent care clinic, and there are good lines all the way through. Adam Scott was funny in his role as John Cusack's straight-laced son. This is far from the worst movie I've ever seen. While I wasn't happy with it overall, there were parts I enjoyed, and it didn't drag too badly.
Three guesses which one the audience chooses...
But the first movie was unusual, partly because it felt a little more honest, which was partly due to building it around Cusack, who has the ability to make you think there's more going on than there is actually going on. Even though the first installment was a "R-rated comedy," which has become a genre of it's own, seeing an unusual face like Cusack's involved lent credibility to the whole affair, suggesting that film was going to be a bit more than swearing, nudity, and copious irresponsible behavior. Minus that, the sequel has to rely on the one-note asshole Lou and the wooden Nick as it's leads. This does not work nearly as well. Corddry at least seems committed to the role, Craig Robinson seems barely awake for much of the time. I'm not exactly mad at anyone involved with the film; get your cash when it's on the table.
The second big issue I have is that the premise of the movie is unrelatable. It's entirely believeable that people have regrets, and would gladly take a mulligan on some of their earlier behavior. This time around, the characters actually debate trying again because they think they can do better than being worth $2.6 billion (Lou), and then have to prevent the least likable character from getting murdered. Even Lou doesn't seem to care about preventing his own death; it's only the fact that he starts "flickering" when he goes off trail that keeps him sort of on-point. So if they don't care and I don't care, who cares?
After the first film, my working theory was that the characters were all doomed to failure because none of them could get anything right the first time, and that would ultimately catch up to all of them. I guess I was right. But all in all, this feels like when they killed off Vin Diesel's character in "xXx" because he didn't want to do a sequel, and then we got a shitty sequel that starred Ice Cube in such terrible shape he wore the equivalent of a parka for the entire film. If Vin wanted to do another "xXx" film, I feel like it would happen in short order, but we'd all like to forget about that half-assed sequel. If John Cusack ever wants to get involved with the "Hot Tub" series again, I'd be on board instantly. Until then, no more awful half-measures, please.
1.5 / 5 - Streaming