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'Hot Tub Time Machine 2' Is So Bad that the Star of 'Must Love Dogs' Turned It Down

By Dustin Rowles | Film | February 20, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | February 20, 2015 |

It’s hard to expect much sci-fi logic from a “comedy,” like Hot Tub Time Machine 2, but if a movie is going to make a complete mockery of the rules of time travel, at the very least it should endeavor to be funny. HTTM2 is about as funny as making love to a Bass-O-Matic, and about as clever as “The Californians” performed by patients in a pediatric burn ward. E.L. James could’ve written a more logical, coherent script with menstrual ink and leftover tampon strings.

I write this as someone who enjoyed the first Hot Tub Time Machine movie, but where the original was an occasionally clever (but sophomoric) fish-out-of-time comedy anchored by the performance of John Cusack, the star of Must Love Dogs refused to return for the sequel. Think about that. The guy who made Martian Child and The Raven wouldn’t come back for the only hit movie he’s had in eight years. That’s how bad HTTM 2 is.

Where the original wrote jokes into the storyline, the sequel wrote the storyline around the jokes, logic be damned. It’s 2015 now, and the characters from the first movie — who used their knowledge of the future to change their 1986 lives — are wealthy but odious douchebags. Lou (Rob Corddry) has invented Lougle, Nick (Craig Robinson) is a successful music producer who stole a lot of future songs and made them hits in the past (Lisa Loeb’s “Stay,” for instance), and Jacob (Clarke Duke) is his father’s butler.

During a party in 2010, however, someone shoots Lou in the balls with a shotgun, so they all jump into a time machine, which takes them to 2025, where they realize that the guy who shot Lou in the balls must have been from the future and traveled back in time, Terminator-style, to murder Lou. Only in the future, Jacob is the successful one because alternate dimensions, duh, although instead of attempting to explain the logic here, Jacob makes several references to a storyline in the infamously low-rated Fringe and screenwriter Josh Heald washes his hands of logic.

In the future, they meet the son of John Cusack’s character, Adam Jr. (Adam Scott), who is about to be married to Jill (Gillian Jacobs). Adam — one of those square, polo-shirt dweebs that Adam Scott occasionally plays in comedies — joins the rest of them in the hunt for the killer, which takes them on adventures which include: Nick butt-fucking Adam on a reality show hosted by Christian Slater, and a trip to the E.R., where the fluid from Adam’s engorged balls is geysered into the faces of Lou and Nick. There’s also a driver-less smart car that attempts to kill Lou, and a scene in which Adam Scott’s character repeatedly vomits all over himself (which, admittedly, was the lone funny sequence in the film).

Save for 22 Jump Street, comedy sequels almost uniformly do not work. They are garbage because no one except for Phil Lord and Christopher Miller realize it’s the characters that were drawn to, not the premise. So instead of changing the storylines, they recycle them and blow up the characters until they are so oversized and obnoxious that we need an ipecac to dislodge them from our systems. The original Hot Tub Time Machine was buoyed by 80’s nostalgia and the amusing antics of the supporting characters. Here, the supporting characters are the loathsome, insufferable main characters, and nostalgia is exchanged for an idiotic version of the future. Nobody wins here, except John Cusack, whose conspicuous absence is the best part about Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.