Cinema review: Hot Tub Time Machine 2

John Cusak makes the wise decision not to return is the messy sequel

IT IS so hard to write about comedies. Comedy is, of course, incredibly subjective. It is, however, not hard to write about comedy sequels as they are nine out or 10 times complete rubbish.

Anchorman, Dumb and Dumber, and Airplane are in my opinion some of the funniest films ever made. They are endlessly quotable and if one of them is on TV I end up watching it for five minutes and then all of a sudden I’ve watched the entire movie. These three films also have really horrendous sequels in common.

The reason these are made, I suspect, is the hubris of the men in charge. It must be hard for studios and producers to tell people like Will Ferrell and Jim Carey what is funny and what is not. They know what funny is, they have been making us laugh for years, but comedy comes from surprise, from the unexpected. If we have already spent two hours with a cast what can they really show us that they didn’t in the first movie? Probably not their best jokes.

There are of course exceptions to the rule, eg, Father of the Bride Part 2, but such films have a narrative structure which allow for circumstances to change and the characters to remain funny and, at the very least, interesting. However slapstick films outstay their welcome after 90/120 minutes at the best of times. Rarely have you come out of Will Ferrell or Zach Galifianakis movie wanting more of the same character. The actors? Sure, they two of the most consistently hilarious writers/actors working today. But I was pretty much done with Ricky, Bobby, or Alan from the Hangover as soon as the movie ended.

The above examples are top tier Hollywood comedies, so when I saw I would be reviewing Hot Tub Time Machine 2...I wasn’t optimistic. When Hot Tub Time Machine came out in 2010 it was riding on the Hangover wave. Four friends involved in a caper over three or four days where they learn about themselves and friendship and blah blah blah... hijinx ensue. You get the idea.

It had a great cast - John Cusack, the king of eighties teen romantic comedies; The Office’s Craig Robinson; Clark Duke who was in the genuinely hilarious web series Clark and Micheal. Overall though it was just OK. It worked because of the cast. I honestly hadn’t thought about it until I heard they were making a sequel. Well three of the original four leads are back along with the director and one of the movies three writers (I can’t believe it had three writers either ).

Cusack has made some questionable decisions in the last 10 years (2012 and Must Love Dogs anyone? ). So probably the best career decision he has made in a long time is choosing not to come back for this. The rest of the cast are about as checked in as Cusack, they really do not seem too interested in being there, and by the end of the movie I wasn’t either. That said it is a tribute to the cast’s natural comedic timing that they do muster up a fair few decent zingers that will draw a couple of laughs.  

Overall it is a mess, going from being incredibly crass and juvenile to forcing a sense drama and emotion - which it really has not earned - alarmingly fast. This leads to the you losing interest and not trusting the narrative path the film attempts to take you on. So, in the long tradition of rubbish comedy sequels, this is more of a Son of The Mask then a 22 Jump Street.

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