HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2
DIRECTED BY Steve Pink
STARS Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson
Clark Duke in Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (Photo: Paramount)
The 1980s are nowhere to be found in Hot Tub Time Machine 2, a bummer for those who still want their MTV. Instead, this sequel to the ever-so-modest hit from 2010 sprints in the other direction, heading into a future where the number one TV program in America is a moronic game show wherein the participants must engage in activities decided by audience members, whether it's juggling knives, eating waffles or being anally violated. Hey, it still sounds better than American Idol.
It's not only the decade of Red Dawn and Reaganomics that's absent from this new picture; also MIA is the first film's top-billed star, John Cusack. With Cusack and his character Adam Yates out of the way, the focus falls even more on the other three principals. Lou (Rob Corddry) and Nick (Craig Robinson) have taken advantage of the knowledge acquired during their time-travel exploits to make themselves filthy rich, but Lou's son Jacob (Clark Duke) hasn't found his direction and remains unfulfilled. At a lavish party, Lou, who's hated by almost everyone, gets his pecker shot off, leading Nick and Jacob to drag him into the hot tub so they can go back in time and prevent the incident from occurring. Instead, they end up 10 years in the future, but because Lou is OK when he should be dead, they surmise that the would-be killer must have come from this future world (like the Terminator). So before they figure out how to return to their own time, the three men team up with Adam's grown son Adam Jr. (Adam Scott) and attempt to answer the question, "Who shot Lou's dick?"
The query doesn't have the same kick as "Who shot J.R.?" but writer Josh Heald at least makes an effort to keep the identity of the assailant a mystery until the end. In other respects, though, this is a thoroughly lazy sequel, and while there are a handful of undeniably funny bits, too much of the material traffics in the same sort of lame gross-out gags and gay-panic jokes that define the modern American comedy. The first Hot Tub flick also was guilty of this brand of humor, but there it was frequently subverted in amusing ways; here, the jokes not only just sit there on the screen like dead slugs, they also stretch themselves out for an eternity, as Heald and director Steve Pink mercilessly run them into the ground.
Corddry, Duke and especially Robinson are still amusing to watch, but without Cusack around to anchor the proceedings with his likability and semi-straight man status, the film drifts further and further into strictly puerile waters. Still, it's nice to see how the filmmakers envision the world in 2025. Personally, I'll be among those casting a vote for President Neil Patrick Harris.