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Movie Breakdown: Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (Noah)

February 19, 2015

Film

People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

C’mon, if you saw the first film about four idiots who go back in time to the 1980s to, I don’t know, look at boobs or something, you’re probably mildly interested in seeing the sequel in which they go into the future to, uh, look at boobs.

The Reality:

Now, I want you to understand that when I level the term “dumb” against Hot Tub Time Machine 2 as a criticism, I understand that coming into this film, as a fan of the original, that these films are the definition of dumb, that they mine their humor from playing on the tropes of dumbness, that it’s a hot summer day and dumbness is the delicious, teeth-rotting Kool-Aid of Hot Tub Time Machine 2. That said, this film is dumb in a bad way. Where Hot Tub Time Machine The First used its dumb stick with maybe even a modicum of finesse (context people), Hot Tub Time Machine 2 just loads it in the dumb gatling gun and sprays it around like a 40s gangster. For a variety of reasons Hot Tub Time Machine 2 finds our protagonists, now fabulously wealthy because of their time-toying (shy one John Cusack, who clearly had better things to do…) in search of Lou’s (Rob Cordry) killer … IN THE FUTURE. Cue jokes about future sex toys (the “Dick Hole” device), future drug use (the “ladybug” device), future realities where people are matched with entirely out-of-their-league partners (the “coat check girl” device) and and other, future-y stuff. Amongst all the self-aware riffing (a major drag on this film) and dick jokes, Steve Pink (who so ably meshed stupid with funny in the first film) tries to weave in some emotion, hell even a plot, but it gets buried under layer after layer of occasionally funny potty humor. And this is what kills me about the adventures of Nick (Craig Robinson), Jacob (Clark Duke) and Adam (Adam Scott – far funnier here than in anything else I’ve seen him in) – the dumb has taken over entirely, and this time it’s mean spirited. Sure, it seems like maybe once, a long time ago, these people were friends, but all of them sans straight-man Jacob, are so terrible to each other (hell, just terrible in general) that the film becomes a big, bubbling cesspool of meanness. This is funny to some people, a bunch of dudes fucking with each other, and I think with a more steady hand and a better script this could be funny too, but instead it ends up like watching a comic version of a Tucker Max book but instead of it ending with him shoving coins in a girl’s hoo-ha, it ends with unearned sappiness.

The Lesson:

Alright, just a quick dip in the nerd pool. I understand that Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is not a film predicated on science, but for the amount they talk about time travel (and they do, even if they’re making fun of it), could they at least have tried to make it somewhat, ahem, realistic? It was distracting how little effort they put into making time travel slightly functional, but still spending a million hours describing it and trying to explain why the situation everyone was in worked. Pick a side Pink, you want scientific time travel, do it; you want four stupid guys getting sprayed in the face with semen, do that. But you can’t have both.

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