[Screen It]


(2015) (Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson) (R)

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Comedy: Three men who used a time machine to get rich must now use the same mysterious technology to go into the future and prevent one of them from being murdered.
Lou (ROB CORDDRY) and Nick (CRAIG ROBINSON) are two guys who used a time machine to travel back into the past and make themselves wealthy. Lou became a rock star and a billionaire technology pioneer, founding a search-engine company called "Louggle." Nick became a recording star who, every year or so, releases his version of a song that was to have been recorded by someone else years later. Lou's son, Jacob (CLARK DUKE), also time-traveled but has not used his knowledge of the future for any sort of personal gain.

Lou, who has become an even more crass blowhard with a drug problem, is shot while giving a speech. Jacob is able to surmise that the killer is possibly someone from Lou's past who has a bone to pick with him. The possibilities include Gary Winkle (JASON JONES), a bitter ne'er-do-well who was supposed to go on the ski trip that ended up being a time trip; Brad (KUMAIL NANJIANI), a Louggle engineer who has wasted some of his prime years taking orders from Lou; and Kelly (COLLETTE WOLFE), Lou's unfulfilled wife.

After hoping into the hot tub time machine, Lou, Jacob, and Nick find themselves 10 years in the future where they join forces with Adam (ADAM SCOTT), the straight-laced son of one of their best friends who is on the verge of marrying Jill (GILLIAN JACOBS). Jacob, meanwhile, learns that in the future, he is the billionaire; has landed his dream girl, Sophie (BIANCA HAASE); and wonders if it is worth it to save his deadbeat dad.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
"Hot Tub Time Machine 2" asks one very big question that will probably forever be dated among the cosmos. Who thought it was a good idea to make a raunchy, R-rated sex comedy with Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke as the main characters?! I can't imagine three people I want less to see on the big screen trying to get their freak on. You'd have to go back decades to the Golden Girls or maybe even the Three Stooges, I tell ya.

Everything about this movie feels "straight to video." It's like one of those cheapie "American Pie" sequels where only Eugene Levy appeared. The original film released five years ago next month starred John Cusack, and he anchored that film in a way that was sorely needed. In addition, he was a crucial pop-culture link in a film in which three forty-something schlubs and Cusack's slacker nephew discover a time machine that propels them from 2010 to 1986 and allows the three older guys a "do-over." Cusack was a great choice because he had been an '80s teen star himself in flicks like "Sixteen Candles," "Better Off Dead," "The Sure Thing," and "One Crazy Summer." I'll always lament that the parts of Lou and Nick were not played by guys who came of age in the '80s like Chris Rock and Anthony Michael Hall. But the film worked, and there were great cameos by the likes of Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover.

This sequel is five years in the making, but it feels like it's been about five days in the making. The script is lazy. It vastly overestimates the appeal of Corddry's boorish, mean-spirited Nick, in particular. And it tries to replace Cusack with Adam Scott, a mostly TV actor who further diminishes the big-screen viability of this movie. It also is shot on the cheap in tax-friendly Louisiana with only a handful of locations and some obvious sets.

All would have been forgiven if there was an actual script. But most of the movie just relies on Corddry, Robinson, and Duke to riff and improv, hurling insults at each other and throwing in loads of profanity and endless jokes about guy-on-guy sex, recreational drug use, and bodily fluids.

The film picks up several years after the original, with time traveler Nick having built a recording career based on songs that would have been recorded by the likes of Nirvana, Lisa Loeb, and Hanson, and Nick launching a Google-like technology giant dubbed "Louggle." For some reason, Duke's Jacob has not used his knowledge of the future for financial or personal gain.

When Lou gets shot by an unseen assailant, the guys theorize that it is someone who has also discovered a hot tub time machine. They vow to travel into the past and stop the killer before he commits the shooting. But when they hopped in the swirling, bubbling waters this time, it propels them to 2025 and they learn that the murderer hatched his plot there and not in the past.

None of this is given any dramatic weight, by the way. That brief synopsis makes it sound like a lot more serious film than it is. Instead, it's just the guys hopping from party to party, pounding back drinks, snorting cocaine, having sex, and generally boring the heck out of the audience. For the film to work at all, you have to have some investment in the Lou character. I didn't. The Jacob character is a mess. One moment, he's smart and intuitive. The next minute, he's dim and clueless. One minute, he loves his dad, Lou. The next, he hates him. He hasn't used the time machine for financial gain in the past. But in the future, he's the billionaire. Then, he turns suicidal. It's just all over the map. And poor Craig Robinson is forced to take part in one of the most uncomfortable sequences in recent movie history, appearing on a futuristic game show where he has to have virtual reality sex with either Lou or Scott's Adam Jr.

Every once in a while, a funny bit or line slips through and you realize this could have been a pretty cool time-travel franchise. Sure, you lose Cusack. But why not replace him with someone who has equal star power. Nic Cage will basically do any movie for a paycheck. Christian Slater cameos here, and he would have been a good replacement. Ditto everyone from Anthony Michael Hall to Rob Lowe. They could have really opened up the playbook here. Maybe even tossed in a Bill and Ted/Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter cameo.

It's quite limited in its imagination, its laugh quotient, and its appeal. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and prevent this flick from getting green-lit. It rates no higher than a 3 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed February 18, 2015 / Posted February 20, 2015

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