There's a satisfying simplicity in a title like Hot Tub Time Machine. Those self-explanatory words let you know exactly what you're in for. You're gonna get some time travel mumbo-jumbo and a lot of raunchy humor. And as Jacob (Clark Duke) says, looking directly at the camera, "Why mess with a winning formula?"
In this outing, the bros from the first movie (minus John Cusack) accidentally travel into the future and try to fix the parts of their lives they screwed up. Whether John Cusack felt he was too good for a sequel or just decided he'd rather do some more straight-to-video action films is anyone's guess. Though the film cleverly weaves his character into the plot "” without him actually being there "” his weary presence is sorely missed.
There are shades of Mike Judge's dystopian Idiocracy in writer Josh Heald's vision of the future. Sure, there are nice advancements, like free on-demand car service for everyone, but people are even more attached to their devices than ever. And the most popular show on TV is essentially a competitive Truth or Dare, but usually ends with audience members in uncomfortable sexual situations. Depending on how messed up your sense of humor is, this scene will be the high point of the movie.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is consistently funny, but it's something of a minor miracle that the movie doesn't fall apart at the seams. That's because neither Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson nor Clark Duke are really equipped to carry a movie, so the script allows them to share the spotlight. The addition of Adam Scott is crucial. He's got a different comic energy than the rest of the group. Corddry nails the part of the asshole (a part he's perfected over the years), Robinson has the over-confident thing down pat and Duke winningly plays the nerdy underdog. Scott is really just translating Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation to the big screen, but we can all use more Ben Wyatt.
I just wish they'd given Gillian Jacobs "” and really any women "” bigger and better parts than what they get here. She's just one of many wives/girlfriends/mistresses. That's a huge missed opportunity, considering the talent Jacobs displays so regularly on Community. Maybe in the next one they can go back in time and make the women three-dimensional characters.