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The best thing about Hot Tub Time Machine 2 happens in the first five minutes of the movie. The trailer for the movie ruins the joke: it involves Craig Robinson’s video for “Stay (I Missed You),” the song his character stole from Lisa Loeb; with access to a time machine, he’s been going back to steal what all the hits would be.

If the paragraph doesn’t make sense to you, you probably didn’t see the first Hot Tub movie and you definitely need to see this before you go see the second one. Or, you know, before you DON’T go to see the second Hot Tub movie, because this one is terrible. Granted, the first one wasn’t good, but it had its charms (this reviewer is a fan and went into part 2 as a fan) but, sadly, none of those simple pleasures remain in the sequel.


The film picks up at exactly the same time when the first one starts, only now that reality has been altered on account of all the things that happened back when the gang traveled into the past and changed their own future. Lou (Rob Corddry) is the owner of LOUGLE (yes, like GOOGLE but with LOU), Nick (Robinson) is a Grammy Award winning superstar whose whole career is based on hits that never happened for other, more talented musicians. Jacob (Clark Duke) now knows who his Father is (Lou), and mostly hates it. Adam (John Cusack’s character in the original) is nowhere to be seen on account of the fact that he refused to go back with them, and instead stay in the eighties with Lizzy Kaplan (the first film explains all this).

Anyhooo, soon enough, there is a pretty gross shooting with Lou as the victim and the gang jumps back into the hot tub (which Lou has been hiding in the back), just to prevent this awful (distaseful, not funny) injury happen to him. However, they end up in the future and stumble upon Adam Jr. (played by Adam Scott, a noble replacement for the Cusack) and then all sorts of stupid stuff happens.

Now, by this point, you may think that I am just not giving this movie a chance. Rest assured, reader, that I am. I am probably the one reviewer in United States (the world?) who really, truly wanted to love this. I mean, I host a Craig Robinson Movie Marathon at my house every year. I laugh at sophmoric things all the time. I have seen This This The End and 21 Jump Street at least half a dozen times each. I am, somehow, against all odds, exactly the target audience for this.

Sadly, despite all the good will I can muster, it doesn’t deliver. First of all, the semi-future is being done WAY better in, say, Parks & Recreation as we speak. The drug scene Adam Scott is in has been done better in This is The End. The this-is-truly-uncomfortable sexual future encounters would maybe make someone wince BEFORE Black Mirror happened. And the whole time-traveling-back-and-forth-while-wasted-and-stupid has been executed way more righteously by ones Bill S. Preston Esq. and “Ted” Theodore Logan.

So, what you are left with is four pretty damn funny people in a half-story, without even many costume changes. Instead, they just hang out in 2015 (the trailer implies they travel ALL OVER THE TIMES, yet this is NOT the case. I repeat: This is NOT THE CASE). And there is nowhere not enough of Craig Robinson singing. I mean, you have him in a movie, you have a wedding scene, and you DON’T sit the man at a piano? What’s the point of anything anymore after that?

There is a fine art to making a great stupid movie and while the first Hot Tub flirted with the formula in a game (if imperfect) way, the sequel just makes you scratch your head and say: What exactly went so horribly, horribly wrong here? The answer may be lengthier (and funnier, despite inevitably being sad) than the movie itself.