I like gross comedies. I don’t flinch at raunchy comedies that are heavy on the f-bombs and light on story. I’m sometimes even fine with the occasional bro-comedy that’s all about guys exploring their feelings and friendships and not allowing multi-dimensional female characters into the club house.
But what I’m not fine with is a comedy that doesn’t try to be funny, and instead relies on movie references and gay jokes to get cheap laughs and groans.
When you drain out the filler of homophobic rape and masturbation jokes from “Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” you’re not left with much else at the scuzzy bottom of this movie. Screenwriter Josh Heald collected his check and played a crude game of Mad Libs with what was left of the cast from the original. I assume John Cusack read the script and decided that in investing in a regular hot tub was a better use of his time and money.
That’s right; one of the four stars of “Hot Tub Time Machine” opted out of the sequel and is written off as a recluse. It doesn’t get any more creative. Lou (Rob Corddry) uses his time travel knowledge to become an inconsiderate rock star tech start-up mogul, beating Google at their own game with Lougle. Nick (Craig Robinson) decides to rip-off Nirvana and Lisa Loeb songs before they’re written to become a pop star himself. Lou’s son Jacob (Clark Duke) becomes his dad’s butler at big house parties and is taunted for being a nerd. When someone (potentially anyone Lou’s angered) decides to kill Lou by shooting his penis off, the race to save Lou’s life and find his killer takes the trio to the mystical hot tub now stashed in Lou’s mansion. They’re taken to the future where we meet some virginal relation of Adam’s (John Cusack), named Adam Jr. (played by Adam Scott), the day before his wedding, a car with permission to kill angry pedestrians and a virtual reality game where audience members can be raped on national television by a celebrity.
Craig Robinson is the only comedian that takes charge of his unfunny predicament, dropping his signature deadpan one-liners to balance the mean tone. Rob Corddry amps up his character’s toxicity to megalomaniac proportions and becomes quickly insufferable to watch. Whenever Clark Duke finally collaborates with fellow on-screen dweeb Josh Gad for the remake of “Revenge of the Nerds,” it will hopefully have better constructed time travel jokes than this “Hot Tub” slog. Gillian Jacobs from “Community” plays such a one-note character as Adam Jr.’s wife-to-be, she could have been played by almost any other actress. It’s a shame Jacobs wasn’t invited to the hot tub party because the film could have used some “comedy” by the time she’s introduced.
These waters were lukewarm for a comedy to begin with, made up from the goodwill of the first film and whatever backwash was left over. Laughs bubble and dissipate quickly during the movie. Lazy writing and a quick cash grab is no way to reward fans who made “Hot Tub Time Machine” a cult hit. If this was supposed to be their “Back to the Future 2” (complete with dog on hoverboard), then why not at least try to make the future funny or creative? Is the tub broken? Maybe it’s just old. Let’s call the movie's repairman, Chevy Chase, to bring back a “Caddyshack” reference to fix it.
"Hot Tub Time Machine 2" hits theaters on Feb. 20.