Directed by Steve Pink, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is the grime at the bottom of the comedy barrel. This 2015 sequel to the 2010 original is an unmitigated disaster from start to finish, with nary a life to be found. It’s also endlessly self-indulgent and nearly drowns every joke in endless riffing. There’s no artistic skill and the performances volley between irritating and boring.
Nobody expects a classic comedy to emerge in Hot Tub Time Machine 2, but this is the sort of fare that makes Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy seem passable. Pink’s film isn’t absurd enough to get away with what it wants to get away with, so the humour just seems unnecessarily nasty. The characters are all appropriately debauched, but it’s impossible to care about what happens to them.
The movie picks up five years after the first entry. Lou (Rob Corddry) made his billions as an Internet magnate, while his son Jacob (Clark Duke) waits around for his inheritance. Nick (Craig Robinson) made money using time travel to release previously written songs to an unsuspecting public. One day, Lou is shot at a party and the group goes back to the hot tub time machine to save him.
Unfortunately, they end up in the future. Jacob suspects it’s an alternate timeline and they set out to find the guy who shot Lou. This leads to the home of Adam, but they only discover his son Adam (Adam Scott). The other Adam comes along for the ride and winds up taking some drugs. All the while, Lou and Jacob’s fractured relationship remains an issue. And so on.
This movie is a mess. The plot is nonsensical to the point of ineptness. The characters just reach the future and wander around, going from one opportunity to the next without really focusing on anything. There is a half-assed search for Lou’s apparent killer, but this materializes out of nowhere. For the most part, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is an excuse to fart out a pile of unfunny sketches.
There’s plenty to get outraged about, if that’s your thing. The movie’s treatment of women is unreal. There’s not a strong female character in the bunch, including Adam’s fiancé Jill (Gillian Jacobs). Her job is to sit around and home until she decides to exact some revenge following the film’s most exasperating sequence.
Said sequence involves a future game show hosted by Christian Slater. Long story short, Nick is selected to have sex with Lou. The setup is hideous enough, but the comic potential is completely drained when Lou gets out of his predicament and subjects Adam to it instead. Consider that Jill gets to watch, while Lou’s son Jacob is also in the audience. And then think about what Jill does for revenge.
The problem with the scene isn’t the content alone. It’s the structure. Lou gets away with it, as he almost always does, and that’s one of the biggest problems with this picture. For all the unpleasantness of its characters, there’s no retribution to even the scales. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 doesn’t have the good sense to present its idiots as idiots. It seems we’re actually supposed to like these assholes.
It’s enough of a problem that Hot Tub Time Machine 2 has to make do without the services of John Cusack, but this sequel insists on making do without the services of anything resembling humour. It’s just a series of mean, nasty nonsense. Even rare flickers of daylight, like the appearance of a future version of The Daily Show, only serve to remind audiences that the actual comedy is elsewhere.
As bad as Hot Pursuit was, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is positively in the running for one of the worst movies of 2015. At least the former attempted characterization, however flawed. This picture is just a bloody waste.