In addition to its R rating (that’s for raunchy and it’s not kidding), this follow up to the agreeably goofball 2010 time travel hit should come with a Surgeon General warning. Think about it: Paramount released this on Oscars weekend. For months moviegoers have been intellectually acclimated to the finest, noblest achievements of the past year-works like Birdman, Boyhood and The Theory of Everything. Then Bam-Hot Tub Time Machine 2! If that’s not a recipe for cinematic whiplash, I don’t know what is.
Welcome back to the real world. Goodbye David Oyelowo; hello Rob Corddry. So long quantum mechanics; we missed you, dick jokes. In some respects this is a fitting film to transition viewers from awards season to the movie no man’s land of midwinter, itself a variety of time travel. In a mere 93 minutes, Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke succeed in erasing virtually all memory of those hours we spent in the Dolby Theatre and almost make us feel like we never left our humble multiplex at all.
When we last saw Lou (Corddry), Nick (Robinson) and Jacob (Duke), they’d traveled back to 1986 and learned touching lessons during an encounter with their younger selves. As it turns out, there were other take aways. Lou used his knowledge of the future to pretend invent the Internet and become the gazzillionaire head of Lougle Enterprises. Nick rose to fame as a recording artist by recording favorite songs which had yet to be written in 1986. Lisa Loeb makes a very funny appearance as a fan who tells Nick she loves his latest, “Stay (I Missed You),” though listening to it makes her feel oddly “violated.” Hey, for February, that’s clever stuff.
Then somebody shoots Lou in the penis and the stooges hop back in the hot tub, intending to travel to the past to prevent the shooting but winding up in 2025 instead. The future, we discover, is not so much dystopian as downright dirty. Sure, dogs fly on hoverboards and cars drive themselves but, more importantly, the most popular program on TV is Choozy Doozy and entertainment can take the form of contestants engaging in virtual anal rape. “We’re not calling it ‘rape,’ are we?” pleads a shaken Adam Scott, who’s just found himself on the receiving end of televised challenge with Nick. Scott plays Adam Jr., the son of the character played in the first film by John Cusack.
Tremendous strides, we also learn, have been made in the arena of self-gratification technology and digital do-it-yourself devices provide the basis for many a gross-out gag. Then there are the pop culture riffs which flew so fast and furious in the first film. If anything, they fly faster and more furiously here with shout outs to everything from Duck Dynasty to The Terminator with I lost count how many references to Bruce Willis. These bros are seriously into Bruce.
Directed by Steve Pink and penned by Josh Heald, this is the rare sequel that’s the original’s equal. Obviously, we’re talking film fun at its dumbest but Hot Tub Time Machine 2 IS undeniably fun. Half the jokes may miss but its creators machine gun so many it hardly matters. I guarantee you’ll be offended by some but promise you’ll be laugh your head off at others. Imagine a comic cross-pollination of Apatow, Sandler and the loopiest Ferrell-McKay collaborations. Now imagine it dumbed down and dirtied up to within an inch of releasability. That’s pretty much the vision here: a gut-busting glimpse into a future in which only the cars are smart.