The original film had a clever concept and was a nostalgic film in that it was both set in the 80s and skewered a lot of comedies from that decade. The fact that John Cusack was the star and it had a skiing theme similar to Cusack’s Better off Dead was priceless. However, the sequel suffers from the fact that Cusack is not in this film and all we’re left with are the side players, who can’t really anchor the film for the viewer.
The film takes place a few years after the last with the three remaining players using their knowledge of the future to their advantage. Lou (Rob Corddry) is a successful Internet mogul and still as much of a jerk as ever. Nick (Craig Robinson) has stolen every hit song he can think of and recorded them before the real artists can. Of course, he is just a shell of a man. Although Jacob (Clark Duke) discovered at the end of the last film that Lou is his father, he basically lives in Lou’s mansion as his live-in butler. An attempt is made on Lou’s life and the three use the time machine to go back in time and save him, but instead they end up ten years in the future. There they meet Cusack’s illegitimate son, Adam (Adam Scott) and he gets pulled into their adventure as they try to figure out who came from the future to try and kill Lou.
There are several hilarious set pieces in this film, though some of the jokes fall horribly flat. There are also no female characters of any substance—Gillian Jacobs is wasted as Adam’s fiancée—but Bianca Haase, who plays Jacob’s wife, does fill the gratuitous nudity quotient. She’s a beautiful young woman, but it would have been nice if they’d developed her character a bit more. Then again, this is Hot Tub Time Machine 2, so I’m not really sure what I was expecting. The film is funny, though. If you’re not a fan of crude raunchy comedy, though, you’ll definitely hate it. There just isn’t a compelling enough story here to keep things moving.
The three leads shine in their roles, no matter how poorly written they are. Robinson can make me laugh any day of the week, while Duke does a good job as the relative voice of reason. Corddry is definitely funny, but Lou is so despicable, it’s impossible to root for him. You almost want to see him die. Adam Scott basically plays the straight man here and tries to hold his own, but his talents are wasted here as the script doesn’t even let him use his natural intelligence. Chevy Chase puts in a blink and you’ll miss it cameo as the hot tub repair guy and Christian Slater has a funny cameo as a sadistic game show host.
Hot Tub Machine 2 is not a good movie. The story is very weak and the grounding force of the first film, John Cusack, is missing in action. However, if you like crude, raunchy comedy, there are plenty of great bits here to satisfy you for an afternoon. If this is your sort of thing, check it out, but no matter what, you’re probably better off waiting for cable.