Tuesday, February 24, 2015

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 Is a Comedy Black Hole of Suck


- This one makes me sad. I liked Hot Tub Time Machine a lot. Was it the best comedy ever? No. But it was a fun flick - an anything-goes, silly and over-the-top comedy that featured a really funny cast. And I was actually pretty excited for a sequel. The premise was so open-ended that I looked forward to an anything-goes film that would just go all-out with time travel insanity. Well, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 is pretty insane, but sadly, not really in a good way. There is so much talent here, but they have so little to work with. The result is a comedic trainwreck that sees the likes of Rob Cordry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, and more flailing desperately to salvage anything out of this flaming pile. This is one that's best just quickly forgotten about. We can all just put it behind us and try not to let it diminish our enjoyment of the stars' much better creative output. Children's Hospital is still really awesome, you guys. Don't let the stink of Hot Tub 2 rub off on it, or any of the other great stuff this cast is involved in. These talented comic actors deserve better.

It's not really worth going into all the time-travel-y plot machinations here, except to say that the gang (sans the original's John Cusack) end up traveling into the future to prevent the murder of Cordry's Lou. If you recall, the original film ended with the guys going back to the past and remaking history so that they became prophetic purveyors of pop-culture and technology based on their knowledge of the future. Of course, success has only made Lou even more of an asshole, and has won him his share of enemies. When the crew pursues their suspect through time, they find themselves flung a couple of decades into the future. There, they meet Adam Scott's character, Adam Jr. - an uptight, soon-to-be-married square who is actually the son of Cusack's character from the original.

The movie uses its near-future setting to basically try to be a poor-man's Idiocracy. But the gags here are so off-the-mark that the movie just ends up being off-putting rather than funny. I'm all for boundary-pushing comedy - but boundary-pushing only works if there is an underlying intelligence, even in the silliest and seemingly stupidest gags. But HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 just feels half-baked in every regard. Jokes get set-up without any sort of satisfying punchline. Meant-to-be-shocking moments are more shocking for their lack of comedic punch than anything else. And that lack of hilarity only ends up emphasizing the overall mean-spiritedness of the script. Again, I'm never going to begrudge a comedy for going dark. But there's got to be *some* method to the madness. Here, the dark stuff just seems like a fall-back to cover for the lack of solid jokes. Script is a mess? Thow in a scene where two straight guys are forced to have sex on a televised game show that for some reason is popular in the future? It's like ... at least give the concept some sort of comedic context. But there's no real rhyme or reason to any of the jokes about this future. It's just a mish-mosh of ideas that add up to nothing in particular.

Cordry seems to be overcompensating for the movie's lack of a funny script by just cranking up his performance to eleven. You've got to feel for the guy. We know he can be hilarious when given the right material. But here, his character of Lou is pushed so far down the spectrum of annoying-asshole that at some point, you just want him to go away. And again, if HOT TUB 2 was really going for some kind of punk rock, joke's-on-you anti-comedy thing, you could at least admire it. But I don't think that's the case here.

The movie feels slapped-together. It's no surprise then that its funniest moments come during the seemingly improvised moments. Put these guys in a room together and let them riff, and you're guaranteed hilarity. But put them in a cash-in sequel with a black hole of a script, and not even their sizable talent can save it.

My Grade: D+

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