A film review by Craig J. Koban March 8, 2015



2015, R, 93 mins.


Rob Corddry as Lou  /  Craig Robinson as Nick  /  Clark Duke as Jacob  /  Adam Scott as Adam  /  Chevy Chase as Repairman  /  Bianca Haase as Sophie  /  Collette Wolfe as Kelly

Directed by Steve Pink  /  Written by Rob Corddry and Steve Pink

If I had a time machine – flux-capacitor enabled DeLorean or a, yes, nitrotrinadium-infused hot tub – I'd travel back to last weekend and dutifully warn myself to not screen HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2.  My time – past and future – is a highly valuable commodity, so cautioning my past self to avoid one of the most inexcusably wrongheaded, witless, needless and awful sequels of our current decade seems like my honor bound duty.  

Alas, I have no device capable of temporal travel, so here we are. 

To be fair, I gave a glowing review to the first HOT TUB TIME MACHINE film, which not only embraced the unrelenting silliness of its inherent premise with a wink-wink acknowledgement to the audience, but it also served as pleasurable romp back into 1980’s nostalgia.  For those that didn’t seem brave enough to give it a shot, the 2010 film featured a group of hapless losers – Adam (John Cusack), Lou (Rob Corddry), Nick (Craig Robinson) and Jacob (Clark Duke) – that stumbled upon a hot tub in an old ski resort hangout of their youth that, uh-huh, gave them the ability to travel back in time…specifically to 1986.  Part of the giddy pleasure of this film was to witness Cusack – a performer that truly came of age in the movies during the neon-soaked decade – have fun at the expense of his past career in 1980’s cinema.  HOT TUB TIME MACHINE was dumber than a bag of hammers, but there was a sly sophistication to its send-up of its past decade in question.  It was kind of innovatively silly and endearing. 

The biggest casualty of HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 is the loss of Cusack at the helm, whom clearly used strong common sense and keen discretion in deciding to not return for what clearly is a pathetic cash grab here with the sequel.  Also gone is the wonderful 80’s nostalgia and, in turn, the wickedly droll commentary on the decade of wanton material excess.  In place of all of those relatively winning elements are a meandering tone-deaf narrative and a whole lot of forced and deeply unfunny gross out gags that ups the ante for crass vulgarity, which never means an actual increase in laughs.  Worse yet, the loveable schmucks from the first film are now pathetically reduced to reprehensible and irritating a-holes, which consequently doesn’t make for a particularly “fun” experience. 



The biggest aforementioned “a-hole” is Corddry’s Lou, a borderline suicidal misfit from the first film that selfishly used his knowledge of the past to become rich and famous in the present, largely because of his time travel journey with his pals from the first film.  At the beginning of HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 he’s a drug and alcohol addicted billionaire tech mogul (remember, he invented the search engine Lougle, which caused Google to be zapped from existence) that causes problems seemingly wherever he goes.  An early house party shows Lou at his hedonistic and inebriated worse, which ultimately causes him to be shot in the groin by an unknown partygoer.  His buddies Nick and Jacob race in to save Lou…by returning to a secretly hidden Hot Tub Time Machine in hopes of venturing to the past before the party to stop the culprit from blowing off Lou’s privates.  Unfortunately, the machine accidentally takes them ten years into the future where Jacob is a filthy rich tech maven, Lou is a pathetic burnout, and Nick has hit rock bottom after a series of past musical successes.  

Okay, so where the hell is the gang’s other BFF in Cusack’s Adam during all of this?  Well, the script has a terribly awkward manner of explaining his absence in one stilted and all-too-convenient line of dialogue.  The gang decides to try to locate Adam in the future, but instead finds his son Adam Jr. (Adam Scott) who’s about to get married to the love of his life (Gillian Jacobs).  The rest of the film becomes a fish-out-of-water story of Lou, Jacob, and Nick trying to acclimatize themselves to their new futuristic surroundings, which despite the presence of self-driving cars and ultra-high tech devices designed for – ahem – self-pleasure, not much has changed in 2025.  For the most part, though, the lackluster and aimless scripting is more about unleashing mini-vignettes featuring some lowest common denominator bathroom and sex humor than it is about fully realizing the world of tomorrow and all of the wacky comic possibilities contained within.  Ultimately, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 tirelessly begins to feel like a series of the worst and most infantile SNL skits all strung together to create some semblance of a plot. 

I’m no prude.  Lewd, coarse and profanity-laced comedy can be funny.  HOT TUB TIME MACHINE was by no means a “clean” movie, per se, but it didn’t pathetically wallow in the type mean-spirited and insipid set pieces and pratfalls on display here.  There’s one would-be uproarious sequence involving a drug-overdosed Adam Jr. that has his testicles grow to the seize of melons as an after-effect of the drug, leading an ER nurse to inject a needle carrying nanobots into his balls to shrink the swelling.  Ho-ho.  Then there is a truly bizarre futuristic reality show (hosted by Christian Slater) that forces contestants – namely an in-over-their-heads Nick and Adam – to have anal sex with each other in virtual reality.  Hardy-har.  Beyond that, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 is awash in gay-panic and homophobic jokes, gags involving piss, excrement, and vomit, f-bomb riddled punchlines that seem to use vulgarity as the punchline instead of containing legitimately funny dialogue exchanges.  

Perhaps the biggest mistake of the film was delegating Corddry up to the leading man of the film (replacing the absent Cusack).  Corddry is an amusing performer with a go-for-broke on-screen lunacy, but he’s funnier in supporting roles that harness his fearless shenanigans in modest dosages.  That, and in the first film he was an agreeable and sympathetic heel, but here he’s just an amoral loser that we’re supposed to cling to and like.  I will concede that Corddry and company try their very hardest with the material given to them with as much enthusiasm as possible.  Granted, the material given to them is so puerile and shallow that I just began shaking my head at what a waste of time, energy, and talent was on display in the film. 

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2’s only moment of comic ingenuity and wit occurs during its end credits sequence, which shows Lou and his companions eagerly changing history (Jacob has sex with Marylyn Monroe, the guys talk time travel with Albert Einstein, Adam Jr. saves Abraham Lincoln from assassination, and the group actually becomes The Beatles).  Regrettably, everything in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 leading up to the spirited final montage is an utter comic dead zone.  If I were to time travel to the future and teach a course on the worst follow-up films of the distant past – ones that took agreeable characters and made them crushingly irritating while thrusting them into a lazily orchestrated plot replete with stale humor that all but tarnished the good vibes of its antecedent – then HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 would be at the heart of the curriculum.  

Just search for it on Lougle in 2025.  It'll be an online course.

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