We all knew a sequel to 2010’s Hot Tub Time Machine was coming. We didn’t know when, but we knew at some point we were destined for another movie involving the misadventures of the drunk hot=tubbing buddies who travel through time (thanks to their hot tub time machine).
For the sequel, the group is somewhat back together. Lou (Rob Corddry), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Jacob (Clark Duke) return for this time traveling trip. The most notable member of the quartet, Adam (John Cusack), is missing this time around – and it shows (more on that later)
The movie opens with the Lou, Nick, and Jacob living in the world they created after their trip back to 1986. Nick is stealing songs from the future to advance his music career, Jacob is Lou’s unofficial butler, and Lou is running ‘Lougle’ while treating people like they’re the scum of the earth. Lou’s not taking what they did in the past seriously. He even shows up for a meeting dressed as Captain Lou Albano.
During a party at Lou’s house, he’s shot by an unknown assailant. When Nick isn’t sure what to do with Lou’s dying body, Jacob reveals Lou stole the hot tub time machine from the ski resort. All three pile into the hot tub in hopes of traveling back in time to stop Lou’s killer. Instead of going back one day into the past, they end up 10 years in the future where all three of their lives are different.
Stuck in this parallel universe, the group put their heads together to find out who shot Lou before it’s too late.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is like a R rated version of the Simpson’s two part “Who Shot Mr. Burns” episode with some time travel mixed in. Although plenty of people have a motive to kill Lou, the story line points to the groups struggling friend Gary Winkle (Jason Jones) and Brad (Kumail Nanjiani), an employee at Lougle .
The story isn’t really about “Who Shot Lou”. Lou’s future/past death is a device they use to wrap up the story line. The film is a cycle of the group making fun of each other, crazy future tech, some “clue”, and the group hating their future selves – that cycle repeats for 90 minutes.
It’s not that the gags aren’t funny, there’s some genuine laugh out loud moments. The famous, “You look like [mash two things together]”, bit the group does the first time they look in the mirror is funny. When the film brings that shtick back around for the fifth time, it feel s like you’ve heard it 100 times. On top of that, there are plenty of gags that don’t’ work that well like the “Killer” Smart Car, testicle draining scene, and everyone asking Nick to do his famous “strut” dance.
The film’s strongest character is unfortunately what sinks the movie. Lou isn’t a good character to build a story around. He’s extremely unlikable and nobody you want to cheer for. None of the story’s problem is Corddry’s fault. Unfortunately he’s playing a character whose too unlikable to love. What worked for the first movie was having Cusack ‘s Adam as the central character. Cusack’s ‘If I had a chance with her’ character has been something moviegoers rallied around since the 80’s. That formula works. They tried to replace Cusack with the lovable Adam Scott as Adam Jr., but it didn’t have the effect.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is lazy attempt at a remake. The film SHOULD be funny; instead it’s a collage of lifeless scenes surrounded by recycled jokes. I don’t if the film needed Cusak or less Lou, but it definitely needed more laughs.