Straight To Video Review - "Hot Tub Time Machine 2"

(Straight To Video Reviews are write-ups of new movies that I was too lazy to see in theaters!)

I went into Hot Tub Time Machine 2 braced for disappointment. It had all the telltale signs of a terrible sequel. A forced premise, the absence of a key character, and a whole flood of nasty reviews to confirm my suspicions. But hey, I had a free Redbox rental, so I figured, "why not?" Which, as it turns out, was a good idea, because this movie could have been a lot worse.

Note the operative words there: "could have been a lot worse." I'm not saying that this follow-up to the 2010 cult hit was necessary, nor am I saying it's a great film, nor am I saying it's even as good as the first one. What I am saying is that, by and large, I'm not totally sure why it sits at 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. There's nothing outrageously bad on display here. It's leaps and bounds above anything Adam Sandler has put out in years, outside of the surprisingly riotous That's My Boy. And, really, I laughed more at this than I did a lot of the bigger comedies in recent memory. Maybe my sense of humor is broken.

For starters, I really jived on the basic premise. To put it bluntly, this is Back To The Future Part II, only if Marty McFly had been replaced by three jackasses. That's it. No, really, that's it. Yes, there's a plot about Rob Corddry's character getting murdered and having to time travel to stop it, and Craig Robinson's character trying to reinvigorate his marriage. But really, even the most important plot elements fall to the wayside for "three idiots in the future, plus Adam Scott, go around and fuck stuff up." If that's not something you're into, then surprise, this isn't the movie for you.

And maybe that's why critics didn't like it: it's a largely plotless movie. While the first one was essentially a series of "four idiots go back to the 80's" jokes, it still had a decent story and shockingly good character development to anchor it. Now, basically none of that remains. The story has some neat twists and turns, but the characters are all pretty established, and we get their shtick from the get-go. That leaves the only real surprises to come from the jokes and the ending, which had me actually falling over with laughter.

The brunt of the jokes are, honestly, pretty great. Ever wanted to see Craig Robinson have virtual reality sex with Adam Scott? Done. Rob Corddry get his balls blown off with a shotgun and his gang of merry idiots trying to awkwardly apply pressure to his dick? Sure. Adam Scott taking a future psychotropic which results in him getting his head devoured by a cartoon insect? Why not. It's a basically a gag a minute here, and the audience has to keep up with the breakneck pace. The important thing, though, is with so many stupid bits humor flying every which way, something is bound to stick with most people.

Or maybe I'm totally wrong on this one, guys. Again, I need to stress that, by many qualifications, this is not a great film. It's clumsily edited. The soundtrack is pretty bland. Back to the Future II already did this in the 80's. By all accounts, it's not a very well-made movie, and what little plot exists is aped from other movies.

And yet... I can't help but admire how balls-out Hot Tub Time Machine 2 goes. It's almost as if every one involved said, "fuck it, let's just take this shtick and push it to its limits." And that's exactly what they do. From start to finish, it was a blast to see how spectacularly all of these characters fucked up, then somehow made it right by fucking up even more. With a pretty clever and funny vision of an alternate "future" as the backdrop, it just makes all of those antics more enjoyable.

Is this worth owning for 20 something bucks? No, not at all. Please don't spend that much money on this. But is it a fun rental, or worth streaming? If you like laughing, probably, I think. I'm in the minority here, apparently, but hey, I thought it was funny as hell. Maybe you will too. I'm sorry if you don't.

But come on, it shows us Jessica Williams hosting The Daily Show. How can you be mad at that?

Verdict: Rent It!


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