Director: Steve Pink
Starring: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, Gillian Jacobs, Chevy Chase
Written by: (based on the characters created) Josh Heald
Running Time: 93 mins
Release date: 10th April 2015
One of the surprise hits of 2010 was Hot Tub Time Machine, a slight comedy about four friends, all dealing with personal problems, who are sent back to 1986 in an unlikely time machine, where they can solve their difficulties. Coming out at a time when there were a collection of films about middle-aged men trying to relive their past (The Hangover, Grown Ups etc), this turned out to be the funniest because underneath all the jokes about genitalia, drugs and homophobia, was a film about friendship. It had a heart. It also had John Cusack in it who was the glue that held the whole thing together.
Now comes Hot Tub Time Machine 2, a long-past-its-sell-by-date sequel, quite frankly, is battling with the recent Will Ferrell outing, Get Hard, as the most offensive film of the year. Cusack has gone and so has all those things that made the original a joy, such as…humour.
After their trip back in time, the gang have all now become successful. Lou, in particular, is a multi-billionaire after stealing the idea of Google. At one of his extravagant parties, he is shot. Nick and Jacob decide to go back in time to stop the killer. Jumping into the hot tub, they are propelled into the future to find the decisions of their past have a very unlikely outcome.
Without Cusack’s star quality and ability to soften the outrageousness, the film turns to the three supporting players to carry the load. This is problematic mainly because unlike Cusack, they seem to have very little self-control. Director Steve Pink lets the group improvise their dialogue, which consists of them swearing at every given moment, which is neither funny or clever but comes across as incredibly lazy.
The other thing that worked with the first film is the sense of nostalgia. It gently poked fun at the greatest time travelling film of all time, Back To The Future, while using pop culture references to heighten the humour. Here, the references are so obscure, unless you know exactly what they are talking about, the joke is immediately lost. For example, a gag involving a reference about Boogie Nights just doesn’t work because it’s about a movie that most of the target audience probably haven’t even heard of, let alone seen.
Where the film becomes increasingly offensive is Rob Corddry’s Lou character. In the first film, he was rude, obnoxious and slightly homophobic because that’s all he knew yet he was forgiven for a brilliantly performed and well written scene on the hotel roof, that gave his character some emotional depth. Here, he doesn’t have Cusack to pull him back, so he’s let loose and overrides everyone else. So instead of being sympathetic, he is just an abomination with an obsessive fear of male sex. An overlong sequence in which the gang are at a celebrity game show hosted by Christian Slater, involving that act between Lou and Nick, is both massively offensive and woeful.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is 93 minutes of awfulness. It makes you want to go back and watch the original, hoping that it will wash away the slime of this dreadful sequel. By the way, Get Hard still wins in the offensive stakes but only just.