Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (***): Al Michaels’ Revenge

hottubtimemachine2

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 – 2015

Director Steve Pink
Starring Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, Chevy Chase
Writer Nick Heald

There is a feeling as one watches the three undercard guys from the original Hot Tub Time Machine that perhaps these guys got away with something. The site of Robinson wandering through a perpetual dance club asking if anyone around there has seen “…a grown up garbage pail kid…” works for me as a description of Duke. Corddry, Robinson and Duke struck gold in Cusack’s fading wake with the 2010 release of the original …Time Machine. They have everyone back (except for Cusack, mostly) and they created a film that is just as good or bad as the first one.

The crudity and degredation is remarkable. There is another suicide attempt played for yuks. The language of friendship is of a range of insults in the “You know how I know you’re gay” mode from The 40 Year Old Virgin. There is no real attempt at a coherent story, so I will do my best to get you up to speed.

Someone shot Lou (Corddry) in the nether regions, causing his existence to be called into question. Naturally the guys go into the Hot Tub to go back a day and prevent it. Instead they end up in an alternate timeline’s future. This frees up Clark Duke to make the requisite Fringe jokes, so he can be called a nerd by the other guys.

Whether you like this film depends on two things:

1) Do you miss John Cusack?
2) Do you like the other guys enough to forgive his absence?

To be sure, the film would have been a little more accessible with Cusack’s normalcy applied to the other characters. Scott, playing his son, is supposed to provide some of that ballast, but he’s just doesn’t have the charisma that Cusack provides (unless you are my 12 year old daughter, who will not see this film for at least 5 more years). There is no discernable reason that he would not have decided to be more of a presence in the sequel with long time collaborator Steve Pink. He intimated on Twitter that he wasn’t asked. Corddry pretty much said he was too good of an actor to be in the film. I have to contend that most of the films he’s made since High Fidelity would say otherwise. Regardless, his presence at the end of the film indicate that neither supposition was the truth. He does a lot of movies, yes. It’s pretty clear making money is not his main motive. My guess is he gave the project what he had, and they bravely moved on, with the eye of the camera squarely on them. Maybe they thought we’d appreciate the rest of the cast more without him.

This was pretty much the case for this reviewer. The chemistry between with the remaining 3 is off kilter, sure, but these guys are funny. The back and forth, as repetitive and crude as it is, works for the most part. Jason Jones is expertly cast as Gary Winkle, an old loser friend of Lou’s. Adam Scott isn’t as much of the wet blanket that he usually plays. Duke, Robinson and Corddry spend much of the time riffing off of each other and beating up each other as the mind’s eye tells each of the male viewers of this film would do with their own friends. This is how the Hot Tub movies work. They trade on the nostalgia of guys who picture themselves as time wasters of epic proportions.

The women that Cusack brought to the first film had no business coming back to this, especially without him there to pine over. What’s left is every guy who spent most of their time since their late teens playing video games, eating foods high in carbs and spending too many weekend nights with their male friends. Not exactly the recipe for box office success, but I am pretty sure it will play decently on home video.

This film is a decent way to waste an hour and a half of their epic life of delusion.

(*** out of *****)

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