Craig Robinson’s character, Nick, in Hot Tub Time Machine 2 uses his knowledge of the future/present explored in the original film to become a musical sensation, ripping off hit songs from The Black Eyed Peas and Lisa Loeb before these artists ever wrote them. He becomes a parody of his own career, however, after penning ‘Everybody Strut’, his first true foray into writing an original song. HTTM2 feels that way as a whole: recycled but pleasant when it sticks to what it knows works, and absolutely awful when it tries to be original.
In case you didn’t see the better-but-still-not-great first HTTM, here’s what you need to know(*shrugs* SPOILER ALERT, I guess): a group of down-on-their-luck friends discover a magical hot tub during a ski trip and travel back in time to 1986, where they use their knowledge of the past to alter their histories and learn more about themselves in the process. Lou (Rob Corddry) stays in the past at the end of the first film to capitalize on his knowledge of the future.
At the beginning of HTTM2, we learn that Lou is filthy rich now. He is the inventor of the internet, founder of Lougle (Google before it ever existed), and lead singer of the transcendent band Motley Lou. Lou is an all-around rock star tornado, destructive to everything his liquor-soaked, cocaine-covered fingers touch. He’s an irredeemable asshole to his son Jacob (Clark Duke), who is a brilliant, attention-starved nerd Lou has turned into his butler.
During one of the soirees Lou throws at his mansion, someone is so fed up with Lou that they fire a shell full of buckshot into his crotch during a particularly dickish speech about only looking out for numero uno. In the chaos, Jacob and Nick drag Lou into a secret area of his house where the hot tub time machine still resides. The plan? To go back in time and prevent Lou from getting castrated/murdered. They get in and party incessantly, which is, you know, how the time machine works for some reason.
They awake to find that they haven’t traveled back in time, but rather 10 years ahead, to 2025. But how is Lou still alive? The crew finds out that hope is not lost, as they happen to have traveled to an alternate timeline where time travel has not been invented yet, and their 2015 experience is actually the future, and they can enlist the help of their friend’s cousin (Adam Scott) to help them, and blah blah blah…
It is as overwrought, confusing, and convoluted as it sounds, especially for a comedy that contains jokes about sodomy and inflated testicles. HTTM2 is at its “best” when the actors are riffing, bringing their charm and commitment to the circumstances, as ludicrous and poorly-written as they may be. Rob Corddry in particular shines as Lou, completely aware that he is unlikeable but at least providing enough nuance to let the audience know why he is that way. Adam Scott is also a fun addition, but by no means elevates the proceedings from its mundane script.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is unnecessary and surprisingly unfunny. Given that one of the themes of the movie is to revere your past in all of its faults and triumphs, perhaps director Steve Pink should have listened to his own advice and let his above-average predecessor well enough alone.