Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Rob Corddry as Lou
Craig Robinson as Nick
Clark Duke as Jacob
Adam Scott as Adam Yates Jr.
Kumail Nanjiani as Brad
Gillian Jacobs as Jill
Collette Wolfe as Kelly
Chevy Chase as Repairman
Melorine Adler as Clayton
Christine Bently as Christine
Bianca Haase as Sophie
Directed by Steve Pink
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Lou and Nick (Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson) have used the Hot Tub Time Machine to make themselves rich and famous, but when Lou is shot (in the crotch, of course) by a mysterious assailant, the two friends and Lou’s son Jacob (Clark Duke) must use the time machine to find and stop Lou’s killer.
There’s a perfectly good reason why comedy sequels rarely are as good as the original movies. It’s the same reason why most bands’ second album is rarely as good as their first. If you come up with a funny idea like a Hot Tub Time Machine, you’re going to do everything you can to put in every one of your best jokes into that movie, because you’re never going to convince someone to give you money to make a sequel. Unless you’re insanely lucky which is apparently the case with the filmmakers of Hot Tub Time Machine, who somehow got money to make a sequel that no one expected or wanted.
In the first movie, four friends used the time machine to go back to the ‘80s to change their crummy lives. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 starts by showing the results of the time jaunts with Rob Corddry’s Lou having become a famous rock star but also a billionaire for having started the internet company “Lougle.” Craig Robinson’s Nick has plundered the song catalogues of some of the top artists of the ‘90s to become a hugely successful Grammy-winning songwriter. Lou’s son Jacob (Clark Duke) hasn’t taken advantage of the benefits of time travel, so he’s basically living in his father’s large shadow as his butler.
I generally liked the original Hot Tub Time Machine, so it was hard to understand how this sequel could fail so badly, except that it just feels a lot meaner with the normally funny Robinson and Corddry spending much of the movie ripping on each other and Duke with improvised insults.
The movie’s problems really begin when they go to the future, because it’s a future that feels incredibly uninspired in terms of trying to make it even remotely interesting. The best they can come up with for 10 years into the future are sentient cars that feed on emotions? Really? It also never quite makes sense why they end up in the future to stop Lou’s killer—it’s explained (by Chevy Chase in a ridiculous cameo), but it never really makes sense.
In the future, they meet Adam Scott as the son of their missing friend Adam (played by John Cusack in the first movie), who is about to marry his fiancée Jill (Gillian Jacobs), the two of them being one of those adorably cute couples that make you sick. Spending time with his father’s friends from the past has a bad effect on Adam as he gets into all sorts of trouble, including an incident with hallucinogenic drugs and an appearance on 2025’s most popular television show in a sequence as grueling to watch as the first episode of “Black Mirror.”
The constant references to much better time travel movies like Terminator, Looper and others doesn’t do the movie any favors either. Even without specifically referencing the “Back to the Future,” it hangs heavily over the film’s unoriginal plot and the character’s motivations, because it makes it obvious how little thought went into it.
None of the actors are bad, although it feels like all of them have done better work since the original Hot Tub Time Machine, and this seems like backtracking for most of them. I don’t think I’d ever say these words in my entire life, but John Cusack is sorely missed in this sequel, because his character kept things grounded in ways that Scott just isn’t capable of doing.
Possibly the most vexing thing about this lame sequel is that I went in thinking this would have the guys visiting different moments in history not just going into this lame future for the entire movie. Those trips to the past as advertised in the marketing are saved for the end credits, but since these jaunts are much funnier than anything in the movie, it just makes it even more frustrating.
Steve Pink’s direction doesn’t help matters. Literally, it does nothing to help save what was once a generally funny premise that has gone horribly wrong with this sequel.
The Bottom Line:
With humor that makes “Bill & Ted” seem intelligent, this sequel is pretty much garbage. We had to wait five years for this?