This prohibitively unfunny sequel is a leading contender for not just worst film of the year, but also one of the worst of the decade.
Following on from the adventures of the first film, the time-travelling quartet are now rich beyond their wildest dreams. Jacob (Clark Duke) is the one holding the group together, but there are problems that no one had foreseen. Adam (John Cusack in the original) has disappeared. Nick (Craig Robinson) has ripped off his favourite songs, passing them off as his own, and is now a successful recording artist. His life, though, feels hollow.
Lou (Rob Corddry) on the other hand has made billions by predicting the future, aided by his trip back to the mid-80’s. He’s made quite a few enemies along the way though, and someone has had enough. As Lou’s life hangs in the balance, the trio are forced to jump into their hot tub time machine again, this time to travel to the future in order to save the past.
In 2025, the gang meet Adam jr (Adam Scott), the straight-laced son of their former-friend. He is about to get married, but desperate to bond with the remaining elements of his absent father’s life, he acts as a tour guide. Can the killer be tracked down and stopped before it’s too early/late?
The plot in these sorts of films is never meant to be anything more than just about serviceable. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 still somehow manages to fail miserably by even these low expectations.
The first film had a real charm to it. Admittedly that was aided by the novelty factor, but also by the subtlety of Cusack’s performance. He was the likeable lead we were rooting for. The nostalgia factor was also welcome, the 1980’s remain ripe for ribbing.
The idea to shift the action 10 years in the future from the present day is a mistake, but not the critical one. The overriding error, a fatal and crucial one from which the film can never recover, is in focussing this adventure around the hideous character of Lou.
We are now asked to side with a vile, reprehensible individual who is sexist, homophobic and powered by every illegal substance known to man. The joke was previously on him, but now the whole narrative has switched to his point of view, and in turn to his sense of humour.
Corddry hams it up, aiming to portray the sort of annoying “friend” who is tolerated by any group. It all goes too far very early on though. How the filmmakers expected the audience to go along with Lou is beyond me, and the initial hints that Cusack might be returning only fill you with false optimism.
When you realise that Corddry’s character will survive beyond the first act, it is perfectly acceptable to leave the cinema.
Adam Scott is supposed to be the heart of the film, but he only joins the action late in the day and even then he is mainly the butt of the jokes. Robinson and Duke are only really tolerable when they stand up to Corddry, something which happens far to irregularly.
The film limps onto UK screens following a drubbing by US critics. They were all spot on.