When I reviewed the original Hot Tub Time Machine nearly five years ago, I started off by explaining that I had no clue why it even existed in the first place. As a film, it was always more a singular concept — I backed off from calling it “clever” — than anything else. There’s a hot tub, but it’s also a time machine! Now, all these years later, I’m sitting here trying to figure out why Hot Tub Time Machine 2 now exists. The first wasn’t good and barely made any money, and yet, here we are.
There are some differences in part two, namely in the lack of John Cusack and the fact that — in a rare fit of lucidity — the sequel actually has a much smaller budget than the original. While the latter doesn’t really matter (no amount of money is going to gold plate this waste), the former is important for a couple of reasons. First, it means that the only semblance of an emotional center that existed in the first film is gone, leaving in his stead a cast of unlikable, crass and emotionally stunted characters. And secondly, how the hell is John Cusack too good to be in your goofy movie? This is important to understand the level we’re working on here.
The sequel picks up with Cusack’s character written out of the movie, having wandered off to seek some sort of enlightenment, while Lou (Rob Corddry) and Nick (Craig Robinson) have used their jaunt through time in the first film to set themselves up as billionaires in the present. At the same time, Lou’s son, Jacob (Clark Duke), is relegated to little more than a glorified butler for his father. There are some sex jokes, some gay jokes and some dick jokes — not to mention lots and lots of pop culture references — until everything’s turned upside down when Lou’s nearly murdered. Setting off in their time machine, Lou, Nick and Jacob head off into the future to track down Lou’s killer and save his life. This leads to more sex jokes, more gay jokes, more dick jokes and, of course, more pop culture references, plus some celebrity cameos (I guess Lisa Loeb’s a celebrity?). There’s your movie.
Besides not being funny, no one’s likable, and they’re all pretty grating in a nails-on-the-chalkboard kind of way. There’s an attempt to redeem the whole thing, with the idea being that everyone learns very important life lessons. Lou learns that he needs to clean himself up; Nick learns that he should spend more time with his wife (Kellee Stewart, Guess Who). But who wants any of this? Who’s going to Hot Tub Time Machine 2 to better understand the human condition, to really get a handle on how to grow and mature? It’s hokey nonsense and hardly classes up the film like it thinks it does. Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nudity, drug use and some violence.