Five years ago, four losers passed out in a jacuzzi, boiled back to 1986, healed their past wounds, rocked out to Poison, and returned to their timeline as gods. Thusly, Hot Tub Time Machine
director Steve Pink was hailed as a minor deity: He'd taken a dumber-than-huffing-hairspray premise and made the perfect trifle, a comedy with no greater aspiration than to be your first choice on an airplane. Alas, with the tepid sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2
, he and returning cast members Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke have stewed too long. Now the whole thing is pruned.
The last film ended with the redemption of Corddry's Lou -- the suicidal jerk-off had become a, well, happy-to-be-rich jerk-off by using the time machine to steal the career of Mötley Crüe and the tech of Google. Now Lou's become even more of a creep: He forces an unwilling, heterosexual friend to screw another man on primetime TV. He arguably deserves it when, in the opening sequence, a mysterious party guest shoots off his penis. But there is a hot tub in his mansion, and a movie to be made, and so we're off to 2025 on a quest to see if Lou can mend his manhood and his manners.
Returning screenwriter Josh Heald has scrapped everything that worked in the original, including the jokes. Instead of goofy but well-planned plotting — like the running gag of wondering when Crispin Glover's bellhop was going to sever his right arm -- the structure of the sequel seems to be: Plop the gang in a weird location and wait for Robinson to improvise something funny.