Published Feb 20, 2015John Cusack apparently knew when it was time to get out of the tub. Although there's no telling what a sequel that included Cusack's character Adam from the original might have looked like, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is positively rudderless without his straight man to help keep things from going off the rails. In his absence, we're left with a collection of genuinely funny people mired in a comedy that values vulgarity over actual jokes.
Through a Behind The Music-style show, we're re-introduced to Lou (Rob Corddry), who used his knowledge of the future at the end of the last film to become a hard-partying rock star that also invented Google (or Lougle, as it's now called). Meanwhile, he's enlisted his son Jacob (Clark Duke) to essentially become his butler while his friend Nick (Craig Robinson) is a record producer who's parlayed his newfound ability to plagiarize artists before they could even write their iconic songs into hits like "Gin and Juicy Juice."
When Lou is shot in the dick at a party by a mystery assailant, the three are forced to hop back into the hot tub time machine that now resides in Lou's house and find, to their surprise, that it takes them into the future of 2025 rather than the past to find Lou's attacker. After a few words of wisdom from returning hot tub guru Chevy Chase, the group sets off to locate Adam but instead stumble upon his son Adam Jr. (Adam Scott) and his soon-to-be-wife Jill (Gillian Jacobs).
It's not encouraging that the film's single biggest comic set piece is the group's appearance on a Christian Slater-hosted game show called Choozy Doozy, in which Adam Jr. is forced to be anally penetrated by Nick (Okay, so that happens within virtual reality, but still). There's also an inane subplot about a Smart car that wants to murder Lou because of his rudeness and a gross-out gag involving squirting pus from Adam's testicles that seems as if it has been transported from the '90s in a time machine of its own.
Corddry may have been the best part of the original, but his lewd and crude demeanour becomes more obnoxious than amusing when pushed to the forefront here. It's an interesting case study in how supporting characters, even a group of them in this case, struggle to sustain a story without a central figure to actually support. Imagine a Hangover film minus Bradley Cooper, where Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms compete for laughs with no one to keep them in check, and you'll have an idea what went wrong here. It's a cheap comedy filled with second bananas after the first banana had the good sense to split.