‘Hot Tub 2’ rehashes old formula

By Jacob Pierce, JacobPierce1_DE

“Hot Tub Time Machine.” The title alone states it is not a highbrow intellectual comedy, nor an explorative, slightly satirical science fiction film.

The movie is stupid. Not in an insulting, demand-a-refund way, but in a lovable idiot sort of way. It bats above its expected average and is highly underrated.

“Hot Tub Time Machine 2” (Rated R; 93 min), directed by Steve Pink, hits the same high points and makes the same mistakes as its predecessor.

Advertisement

Advertisement

{{tncms-asset app=”editorial” id=”02f5c938-bace-11e4-85ba-93114d804fca”}}

It has been a few years since the original movie and nothing has changed for the characters. Lou Dorchen, played by Rob Corddry, is still rich and famous, and still a selfish parasite. Nick Webber, played by Craig Robinson, has a successful music career, but nothing is his original work. And Jacob, played by Clark Duke, is living with Dorchen, looking for his inspiration.

Dorchen is shot by a mysterious assailant at a party and left to die. Weber and Jacob realize the only way to save him is to use the time machine and stop the shooting before it happened. The machine takes them into the future instead, and the gang is in a race against time before Dorchen disappears forever.

A sequel to “Hot Tub Time Machine” is not a big surprise. The original not only made well past its budget, but most critics seemed to enjoy it. It did not present the need for a sequel, but anything successful seems to have a follow-up film nowadays. With films like “A Haunted House 2,” this comedy was far from the least deserving film to receive an addition.

The “Hot Tub Time Machine” series follows a similar trail the “Horrible Bosses” franchise traveled. Neither has an amazing plot, turning their storylines into one-note jokes. Both films are continually saved by the chemistry and talent of the actors involved. 

Most of the cast returned for this sequel—making all the difference. The characters would be the same, stale versions of themselves, as seen in the terrible “American Pie” sequels, if it were not for these actors’ talents.

The movie’s one gaping wound that nearly kills it is John Cusack’s absence. He is not the level of actor he once was, but he brought a familiarity to the first film. He was the perfect straight man to Robinson’s and Corddry’s insanity. He is missed in this film, but the returning actors still hold their own.

Robinson, Duke and Corddry’s flair add legitimacy to the lines they are given and the friendship of the crew. The movie has an entire scene dedicated to semi-improvised jokes about how the characters look in the future.

In incompetent hands, the scene would come off as a watered down version of a Seth Rogen joke. The cast manages to make the gag their own.

Without Cusack reeling in the cast, jokes fly left and right and slow down the plot to a dangerous rate. The movie tries to ramify his vacancy in two ways. One is hiring Adam Scott to play a future version of his son, named Adam Jr., and put him into the archetype. The other is to shove Duke into the straight man role. 

The filmmakers never let either of these options play out. Both characters try to move the plot along like a straight man archetype is suppose to, but Jacob and Adam Jr. end up joining the madness. It is amazing the plot moved at all.

If you enjoy the original “Hot Tub Time Machine,” then you are almost guaranteed to enjoy something about this movie. It is not as good as the first, often feeling like a “best of” video on Youtube. It would be better served watching at home, with a couple of friends, pizza and beers.

Stars: 3 out of 5.     

Advertisement