After the 2010 comedy "Hot Tub Time Machine" sent a group of down-on-their-luck dudes to the 1980s via a haywire Jacuzzi, the logical place for the sequel to go was back to the future.
The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore calls "Hot Tub 2" a "flop-sweaty cash grab that gives a bad name to sequels in which key talent has jumped ship." He continues, "Suffering from much more than awkwardness over the absence of the original's top-billed John Cusack, though it is certainly awkward about that, the film makes us wonder why we enjoyed spending time with his three returning costars … in the first place."
Although new addition Adam Scott "fills the cast's likability void nicely," DeFore says, his character also "bears the brunt of the meanest gags in an intensely mean-spirited, arguably misogynistic film."
L.A. Weekly's Amy Nicholson writes, "If I could bubble a time machine to 2010, I'd advise Pink, 'Quit while you're ahead.'" But with this "tepid sequel," the director and returning cast members "have stewed too long. Now the whole thing is pruned."
Nicholson continues, "Instead of goofy but well-planned plotting … the structure of the sequel seems to be: Plop the gang in a weird location and wait for Robinson to improvise something funny. To Robinson's credit, he brainstorms a few zingers.… But even at its best, this demi-franchise was the first to lampoon its pointlessness. Like a hot tub itself, it looks inviting, but all too soon you've had enough."
The Newark Star-Ledger's Stephen Whitty snarks, "'Hot Tub Time Machine 2' is about three guys who go back in time to try and stop a grotesque disaster. Obviously, they fail. Because otherwise we wouldn't have 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2.'"
Whitty says that there are some "good, fleeting jokes about the world of 2025," but eventually the movie "slows down so much it seems to be going into reverse. What year is this, anyway? The male characters are hard-partying blowhards, the female characters are hectoring nags and anything remotely gay is either ridiculous or revolting. 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2' may want to take us on a trip into the future. But it's stubbornly stuck in the unliberated past."
The Guardian's Jordan Hoffman says, "I hated 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2' so much I now can't even think about the first one without feeling annoyed. This may suggest that the only solution is to go and make a third one to rescue the franchise, but really it may be time to leave well enough alone."
The main problem, Hoffman says, is the writing: "The first film had at least a modicum of drama. … This sequel has nothing to offer other than 'our gang of idiots go to the near future.'"
But not every critic has panned the film. Variety's Justin Chang gives "Hot Tub 2" a mildly positive review, calling it an "enjoyably screw-loose vision" with "just the right amount of slapdash, surrealism-for-slobs attitude."
With Scott lending "a much-needed shot of novelty" and "seasoned funnymen Robinson and Corddry" pulling their weight, Chang says, the movie has a "genial air of anything-goes loopiness that keeps one's better judgment in check for much of the 93-minute running time."
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