#REVIEW: “HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
I loved Hot Tub Time Machine when I first saw it. While the title and premise are utterly ridiculous, the casting of John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke was inspired and hysterical. The Film should not have worked, but it had a certain charm and never once took itself seriously. But then, could a Film about a group of Friends traveling back in time using a Hot Tub be anything other than ludicrous?
While the ending of the first Film suggested everyone had changed their ways, things are more of the same five years later. Lou (Corddry) is a cocky Billionaire, who has returned to his normal horny and drug-addled self. Nick (Robinson) is ignoring his Wife in favour of his music career. And Jacob (Duke) is belittled and rejected at every turn. During a party, Lou mysteriously geta shot. Nick and Jacob grab him and jump into the re-located Hot Tub Time Machine. They do, but are shot ten years into the future. In order to save Lou’s life, they need to find his would-be Assassin and change the future.
The reason the original Hot Tub Time Machine worked so well was simple: it sets up the Story quickly (and refers back to how it played out often) and was able to lovingly satirize an entire decade. By going into the future as a Murder Mystery ala Back to the Future Part II, it gets to do neither of these things. The Characters are just as in the dark as the Audience is, and everything just feels cobbled together. They re-use jokes from the first Film with varying results, and the new jokes do not land much better. There are some genuinely hilarious moments, but not enough to sustain the 90-minute running time. The Filmmakers do inject some interesting ideas here and there, but none of them are given much time to amount to anything other than lost opportunities.
And I do not think I have ever seen a Sequel make as many references to a missing Character/Actor from a first Film. Corddry, Robinson and Duke look to be enjoying themselves throughout the Film and still act off each other quite well. But they quite noticeably refer to Cusack often, and even remark on how much they miss him. His presence leaves a big hole in the Film, and a certain element as a result feels like it is missing. The addition of Adam Scott as Cusack’s Son Adam Jr. is intriguing, if only because he plays a Character so out-of-sync with the others and with the Characters Scott plays usually. But it never measures up to the heights of the returning Players.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is really funny at certain times, but at once chaotic and messy. The core returning Cast still have an immense amount of chemistry together, but the mix of charm and nostalgia that helped propel the first Film from start to finish is entirely lost here. Fans for the first Film will find occasional moments of enjoyment as when the laughs hit, they hit hard.
Paramount Pictures Canada release HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 Friday, Febrauary 20, 2015.