I’ve already seen one miserable movie this year about a group of guys who do horrible things to each other, and here I am just a few weeks later dealing with another one. The chief difference between The Loft and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is that one is a thriller and the other is a comedy. Both are equally wretched examples of their particular genre but I can say of The Loft that at least it didn’t contain a scene in which a man is forced to rape another man on live television while his fiancé watches from the audience. Nor did a contain a scene in which a man arrives at a large glass window with his penis hanging out. These are the jokes folks!
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is a miserable piece of garbage, a wholly unfunny comedy about worthless human beings who treat each like trash and still call each other friends. It’s a needless sequel, of course, to 2010’s surprisingly good Hot Tub Time Machine, but without that movie’s charm or human touches.
If you recall, in the original, four guys: Jacob (Clark Duke), Nick (Craig Robinson), Lou (Rob Corddry) and Adam (John Cusack) discovered a way to travel back in time using the titular hydrotherapy device. While screwing up the timeline, they also managed to make themselves unreasonably successful.
The sequel picks up with their success. Lou owns a successful computer company called Lougle; Nick has become a successful singer by stealing other people’s hit songs before they are written; and Jacob has a job working as Lou’s butler. The problem is that success has made these guys into terrible human beings. No, wait! What I mean to say is that it has made them wretched pieces of human slime. They do things to each other that are painfully unfunny, and most of their pranks revolve around their genitalia. In the world of man-child comedies, these guys have lowered the bar. There’s a moment in which a nurse injects a needle into one guy’s swollen testicle which forces semen to come gushing out all over Nick’s face. These are the jokes!
This time there is no John Cusack – apparently the producers didn’t ask him back – and therefore the most grounded and human character is missing. The sequel is led by Rob Corddry, a comedian that I’ve liked on “The Daily Show,” but here he’s given no filter. He plays Lou, a guy who has altered the course of human history and made himself a multi-millionaire, but is also a loud-mouthed bore, a slob horndog who habitually abuses his employees, his friends and womankind in general while pulling pranks that should justifiably get him arrested. He is completely without any shred of human decency. This is the guy who will screw his best friend’s bride in the changing room just before the wedding. These are the jokes!
The chief plot point in the film is that, during a party, an angry colleague shoots him point blank in the penis with a shotgun and so his friends have to take his corpse back in time to catch the culprit and stop Lou from being murdered. If they never went back in time and simply left Lou dead on the floor that would have been fine with me. I hated this character so much that every time I saw his wiseass smiling face, I just wanted to punch him. And that’s a problem since we see his big stupid grin quite a bit in 93 minutes.
The rest of the plot has the guys, now joined by Adam Scott, mucking around in the world of the future where they play vicious pranks on one another and talk to each other with complete and utter disdain. The jokes they tell in the future are the same tired and stupid jokes that they tell in the present. The comedy is at that annoying juvenile man-child level in which grown men talk to each other like unruly pre-teen boys, much of which is aimed at their penises. These are the jokes!
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 illustrates the fundamental problem with comedy sequels. It has a brand name so no one involved in the production feels the need to try. They’ve taken the smallest ideas from the first and ramped it up with cruel and inhumane jokes involving male genitalia and homophobia at the lowest possible level. This is the kind of bad movie that ruins your day.
NOTE: I’ve given the movie my lowest rating based on one unconscionably cruel joke. In the future, it is mentioned, that one of the most popular shows is a reality show in which toddlers are caught in the basement of a collapsed building and have to find their way out. When I heard this my mind immediately conjured up images of the The Oklahoma City Bombing. It isn’t implicitly stated that this is a reference to that tragedy – I certainly hope not – but faced with a comedy that would use a joke that immediately brought that tragedy to mind just threw me into a state of sadness. Again, I don’t know if the writers were pointing at that tragedy – in my heart I hope they weren’t – but the fact that this was part of my mental imagery turned a bad movie into an unreasonably cruel one.