There's dumb, and then there's ignorant. Welcome to ignorant. You might presume that with the same writer (Josh Heald) and director (Steve Pink) as the original HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, the odds of the makers of HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 landing a healthy percentage of the jokes would be in their favor. Nope. Nope nope nope nope. I had something of a fondness for the first film, because it focused on central characters who just wanted a second chance to correct small wrongs in their teenage years, while still making sure that not too much changed, for fear that they may severely impact the future. These were lovable losers trying to do something right, and it was all very funny.
With HOT TUB 2, the losers aren't losers any longer. Lou (Rob Corddry) has become a tech genius, or at least a guy who spouts great ideas he learned from his time travel and lets his subordinates (including one played by "Silicon Valley's" Kumail Nanjiani) invent them; his son Jacob (Clark Duke) has done a great job just being the son of a wealthy dude; and Nick (Craig Robinson) has been writing songs actually written by other people and making them his own. His version of Lisa Loeb's "Stay" is particularly moving. As for Adam (played by John Cusack in the first film), well, he seems to have vanished because even Cusack smelled trouble on this one. And let's not forget Chevy Chase's hot tub repairman/time travel guru... yeah, he shows up for one useless scene and then goes to meet Cusack for a drink, presumably.
This time around, the boys must unlock the secret to Lou's murder (cause of death: shotgun blast to the dick). To find out who killed Lou, who has become the biggest, broadest douchebag on the planet, the time machine actually sends them into the future, where they meet Adam Jr. (Adam Scott, who really shouldn't let us know he's this desperate) and his bride to be (Gillian Jacobs) on the eve of their wedding. They follow clues, meet future versions of various suspects in Lou's murder in the past, and anytime they get too off track, Lou begins to flicker as if there's a risk the murder will still happen and he'll be wiped from existence in the future.
HOT TUB 2 has a lot of running gags about mucking with the future by going back in time and screwing things up, and almost none of them will even tempt you to crack a smile. But the biggest mistake the film makes is making everyone so incredibly unlikable, either because power and fame has made them intolerable or because they'd rather knock a friend down than have them do better than them. Every scene feels like the characters are grasping for laughs that just aren't there most of the time, and it gets old unbelievably fast. Robinson fares better than his co-stars—probably because of the musical numbers he's a part of—but even he seem to suffer at the hands of this ugly screenplay.
And I'll just tell you now: no, John Cusack does not show up for a cameo; neither does Lizzy Kaplan, who added such a necessary spark to the first film. As for the new cast members, it's always incredible to me (because it seems to happen a lot) that filmmakers would hire proven comedy voices and then give them nothing funny to say. I'm not saying the jokes are bad; I mean the characters are effectively made straight men/women and literally given no funny lines. It physically hurts to watch Scott in this movie, as one joke after another, delivered by other people, fails to land.
And you don't have to look too far below the surface of HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 to notice it's repulsively homophobic, sexist and vulgar with no real reason for it other than the actors are capable of saying bad words. It's as if filmmakers Heald and Pink looked at everything that made the first movie funny and charming, and they decided to murder it. So I guess my point is, if you support murder, go see HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2. Otherwise, I'm sure there are still a couple of Oscar-nominated films you still need to catch up on.