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Hot Tub Time Machine 2: Hotter & Wetter Unrated Cut Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015) movie poster Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Theatrical Release: February 20, 2015 / Running Time: 93 Minutes (theatrical), 99 Minutes (extended) / Rating: R (theatrical), Unrated (extended)

Director: Steve Pink / Writer: Josh Heald (screenplay & characters)

Cast: Rob Corddry (Lou Dorchen), Craig Robinson (Nick Webber), Clark Duke (Jacob Dorchen), Adam Scott (Adam Yates Stedmeyer Jr.), Gillian Jacobs (Jill), Chevy Chase (Hot Tub Repairman), Collette Wolfe (Kelly Dorchen), Bianca Haase (Sophie), Jason D. Jones (Gary Winkle), Kumail Nanjiani (Brad Syed), Kellee Stewart (Courtney Agnew-Webber), Josh Heald (Terry), Gretchen Koerner (Susan), Lisa Loeb (Herself), Jessica Williams (Herself), Bruce Buffer (Himself), Christian Slater (Britt McShasaucey - uncredited) / Unrated Cut Only: John Cusack (Adam Yates)

Buy Hot Tub Time Machine 2 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD Instant Video (Theatrical, Unrated)

The original Hot Tub Time Machine was the very definition of a mid-range performer. It opened in late March 2010, grossed $50 million domestically, and probably did decent business with its unrated DVD and Blu-ray editions. With its reasonable $36 million production budget, the raunchy comedy would eventually turn a profit and though that profit wouldn't be terribly significant to most of the major movie studios,
it was somewhat notable for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Founded in 1924, the storied old studio had struggled financially for some time. Hot Tub remains the last film distributed by MGM, which filed for bankruptcy later in 2010 and has since existed primarily as a production company and co-distributor on big films like The Hobbit trilogy and James Bond. The remaining employees making up the skeletal MGM greenlit a Hot Tub sequel in 2013, finding Paramount as a theatrical and home video distribution partner.

The window for a sequel shuts quickly in comedy. If your follow-up isn't in theaters within three years of its hit predecessor, chances are you're going to falter. The only exceptions are the rare comedies with unusually long shelf lives. Even then, timing seems critical. Does anyone doubt that Anchorman: The Legend Continues would have been more successful (not to mention better) had Will Ferrell and company gotten it done four or five years earlier than they did? Ditto Dumb and Dumber To. For every commercially triumphant sequel that arrived on time (e.g. Pitch Perfect 2, The Hangover Part II, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), there is one that dawdled and subsequently disappointed at the box office (like Horrible Bosses 2, Red 2, Son of the Mask). Recent years have found that in any genre (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Scream 4, the internationally-saved American Reunion), delay usually breeds skepticism. Sometimes, a studio lucks out and ends up with a nostalgia-inviting surprise, like Best Man Holiday. Most times, they do not.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 seemed fairly doomed from conception. People kind of liked, but definitely did not love the original movie. And it's never promising to replace your lead actor, as this sequel did: plugging "Parks and Recreation"'s Adam Scott in for John Cusack. Cusack may be in the roughest patch of his over 30-year film career, but even so he knew better than to come back to this well for diminished returns. Actually, if a few of his grammatically unsound tweets are to be believed, Cusack wasn't asked back. His castmates -- comic character actors Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke -- displayed no such integrity, wisely recognizing that getting cast in a lead role without an audition is a luxury they're rarely extended.

In "Hot Tub Time Machine 2", the hot tub time machine takes Nick (Craig Robinson), Lou (Rob Corddry), and Jacob (Clark Duke) into the future...the year 2025.

This sequel opens in the present day, the one in which two of the guys have become rich and successful by inventing things before their real creators could. That is a perk of time travel, something these friends discovered on a trip to their old stomping grounds in the first movie. As a result of that unexpected ski resort journey back to 1986, Lou Dorchen (Corddry) is now the inventor of tech giant "Lougle" and Nick Webber (Robinson) is a popular singer whose hits include "Mmmbop" and "Stay (I Missed You)", the latter of which we see him perform in a music video employing Lisa Loeb as a cat wrangler. Jacob (Duke), who discovered last time that Lou is his father, has not made it big, basically working as his Dad's butler.

At a big house party, obnoxious host Lou, who dresses like Siegfried & Roy, gets shot in the penis by an unidentified assailant. Fortunately, he still has the fateful time machine in his house. Nick and Jacob rush their severely wounded friend/father to the tub and, per the rules, get blackout drunk, hoping to wake up in the past and be able to stop the shooting. Instead, though, the trio awakens in 2025. Well, the 2025 of an alternate future, for reasons that are never terribly clear despite valiant efforts. Ten years from now, Jacob is bald but rich; Nick is known for the novelty dance song "Webber Strut", and Lou looks like hell.

The guys' search for answers leads them to Adam Yates Stedmeyer (Scott), the son of Cusack's Adam Yates and his college girlfriend. The socially awkward, skirt-wearing younger Adam is getting married tomorrow to the mousey Jill ("Community"'s Gillian Jacobs). Tonight, he lives it up with the boys, getting a powerful hallucinogenic "electric ladybug" affixed to his neck for a wild time. Meanwhile, when they're not getting acclimated with digital suicide nets and self-driving cars that run on emotions, Lou, Nick, and Jacob try to figure out who shot Lou, considering a disgruntled employee (Kumail Nanjiani), a left out would-be group member (Jason Jones), and Jacob himself.

On the eve of his wedding, Adam Yates Stedmeyer Jr. (Adam Scott) experiences the effects of an electric ladybug.

A lot of times, people rag on sequels to excess. It isn't easy for movies to try to provide more of what people enjoyed without providing simply more of what people enjoyed. Critics, who value originality perhaps above everything else, almost always take follow-ups to task for lazy regurgitation and lack of a purpose.
Hot Tub 2 cannot be accused of simply repeating its predecessor Hangover Part II-style, but that might have been preferable to this ugly, joyless outing.

Cusack's absence cannot be overstated. Like him or not, he was the audience's point of access on the first film. The three cronies making this second trip aren't likable in the slightest, nor are they really intended to be. It's unlikely you'll feel anything for these characters, other than maybe disgust. Adam's son is slightly more tolerable than his new companions, but he too is not someone you'd soon pick to join you on an adventure.

Adventure is overstating this sequel's story. This is an extremely casual movie that is content to just hang out with these characters and have them refer to movies and play "You look like..." Part of it is the budget, which you can tell has been scaled back. (It reportedly was $14 million, less than half of the original movie's $36 M and the most likely reason Cusack wasn't "asked back.") Though it doesn't go anywhere or add up in the slightest, the movie actually wants you to invest in its utterly uninteresting murder mystery, which subjects characters to flickering when their existences become jeopardized. Hot Tub 2 forgets people are watching this more for laughs than a story. It doesn't have much of either.

Josh Heald, who conceived the first film and shared screenplay credit with the duo of Sean Anders and John Morris, gets no credited help this time around. Perhaps he expects credit for not bringing these characters to a different past (like, say, the '90s) but to a future. He deserves none. Whereas the first film at least invoked some fun nostalgia, this one presents the near-future with nothing of note. You could be kind and say Heald applies a touch of satire to the setting: cruel reality television abounds in this 2025. But it's only in place to justify crude gags, the biggest of which is a Christian Slater-hosted game show in which Lou and Nick are forced to engage in virtual gay sex. Outrageous, huh?

It is tough to believe that this is the kind of movie Steve Pink wants to be directing. Pink, whose career began promisingly enough with the screenplays to the highly-regarded Cusack vehicles Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity, made a pretty fun directorial debut on the 2006 college comedy Accepted. He followed that with the first Hot Tub and, following some television and the unbearable African American remake of About Last Night, he returns for this and does nothing to justify its existence or ease your understandable concerns.

Striking out theatrically with one of the worst performances for a wide release film, Hot Tub 2 recently, quietly made its way to home video on DVD and the subject of this review, a "Hotter & Wetter Unrated Cut" Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack. Exclusive to the Blu-ray like all other bonus features, the unrated edit extends the film by 5 minutes and 53 seconds. Most significant among its changes is an alternate ending, featuring John Cusack as Adam. So much for not getting asked back? Another addition includes a scene of Lou flickering amidst topless girls.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: Hotter & Wetter Unrated Cut Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Both: Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese; BD movie-only: English for Hearing Impaired
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video (Theatrical, Unrated)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Despite all of the faults and the noticeable low budget, the film still looks great on Blu-ray, the 1.78:1 presentation remaining crystal clear and razor sharp throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is satisfactory also. This won't be a movie you watch for killer sound, but the lossless track keeps music, effects, and dialogue crisp and well-distributed.

You can bet Rob Corddry incorporates sarcasm into his remarks in "The Making of 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2.'quot; Christian Slater discusses "Choozy Doozy", the top-rated game show of the future his character hosts in his uncredited cameo.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by director Steve Pink and writer Josh Heald. It can be heard on both cuts of the film, but it appears to have been recorded for the theatrical cut. The unrated edit bizarrely cobbles the discussion together -- a number of parts are repeated and there are some quiet patches throughout -- as if no one will notice. When you think of how few people will listen to this after choosing the unrated cut, no further effort was needed. Pink and Heald take their duties somewhat seriously, dispensing some scene-specific (on the theatrical cut) factoids from the start. Topics include a logo lion gag wanted for both films, Lisa Loeb's glasses input,
and a drinking game you can play (take a shot every time you spot a bear that is hidden in the backgrounds of some frames). They also talk about Splash, comment on the food they've been served and their cookie preferences, joke about recording commentary for Avengers: Age of Ultron, and defend their film against claims of gay panic and homophobia. If you think you'll get the dirt about why Cusack isn't here (or why he is briefly in the unrated cut), you are mistaken. Still, this is more substantial and informative than most would expect.

The video side, in which all is HD (but some of it looks strangely poor), we start with "The Making of Hot Tub Time Machine 2: Come on in the water is freezing!" (sic) (5:06). This standard featurette gathers talking heads, clips, and just a touch of behind-the-scenes footage. All seem to indicate this sequel is better than the original, even though it clearly is not.

"The World of the Future: The Future as Seen from the Tub!" (13:32) consists of five shorts discussing facets of the film's 2025: technology, the game show "Choozy Doozy", costume design, cars of the future, and electric ladybugs.

Alternate versions of the "You look like..." putdowns feature in both deleted scenes and bloopers. Like most new Paramount DVDs, Hot Tub Time Machine 2's is void of bonus features.

"You're in the Hot Tub Now!" (31:11) offers ten behind-the-scenes vignettes, which turn our attentions to Nick's Lisa Loeb plagiarism and novelty dance, Steve Pink's direction, and where the cast would go if the hot tub time machine was real. These bits are plagued by wildly inconsistent volume levels.

Four deleted/extended scenes (4:55) are included. Most of them are extensions,

but a few board meeting ideas and a scene in which Jacob shares his Choozy Doozy popcorn with Lou are somewhat significant. Of course, you do not get the unrated cut's additions here, as much sense as that would make.

Finally, there is "Bloopers and General F%#! Ups y the Cast" (8:33), a long gag reel that is full of off-color improvs (including lots more "You look like...") and bursts of laughter.

Typical for the studio, the Blu-ray opens with streaming trailers. The DVD, which is otherwise entirely devoid of extras, opens with on-disc promos for Terminator: Genisys and The Gambler. The Previews listing repeats those after first advertising Project Almanac.

Each disc uses a static cast shot (a poster image) and score on its main menu. The Blu-ray doesn't resume playback, but does let you set bookmarks on your favorite scenes in the unlikely event you have any.

Although Paramount extends one of their standard combo packs to the film (a minor surprise given its lackluster theatrical performance), they don't bother with a slipcover, placing the two plainly-labeled discs inside an eco-friendly keepcase along with the Digital HD code insert (whose back promotes a downloadable free HTTM game).

Jacob (Clark Duke), Lou (Rob Corddry), and Nick (Craig Robinson) hop back into the hot tub time machine to save Lou's life and discover his assailant.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is somehow quite a bit worse than you could imagine a sequel to an okay comedy being. Void of laughs, this film squanders any goodwill its predecessor built. It feels like one of those direct-to-video sequels Paramount was making a few years back and that is despite the talent of the returning and expanding cast. Ordinarily, you might write off a sequel as being strictly for fans of the original, but in this case, this sequel's failings will most hurt those who really admire the first film. They and everyone else should stay away as they have been.

Paramount's presentable Blu-ray has a decent amount of bonus material including a commentary that is surprisingly somewhat sincere. Still, none of it makes the movie close to bearable.

Buy Hot Tub Time Machine 2 from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video (Theatrical, Unrated)


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Related Reviews:
Directed by Steve Pink: Hot Tub Time Machine About Last Night (2014)
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Grosse Pointe Blank Horrible Bosses 2 Grown Ups 2 The Hangover Part II
Rob Corddry: Warm Bodies Hell Baby | Craig Robinson: This Is the End | Clark Duke: A Thousand Words
Adam Scott: A.C.O.D. Friends with Kids Step Brothers Piranha | Chevy Chase: Lovesick Caddyshack
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Reviewed June 7, 2015.



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