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Hot Tub Time Machine 2


Published February 25, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

In addition to its R rating (that's for "raunchy," and it's not kidding), this follow-up to the agreeably goofball 2010 time-travel hit should come with a surgeon general's warning. Think about it: Paramount Pictures released this movie on the Oscars weekend. For months, moviegoers have intellectually acclimated themselves to the noblest achievements of the past year — works like Birdman, Boyhood and The Theory of Everything. Then, bam — Hot Tub Time Machine 2! If that's not a recipe for cinematic whiplash, I don't know what is.

Welcome back to the real world. Goodbye, David Oyelowo; hello, Rob Corddry. So long, quantum mechanics; we missed you, dick jokes. In some respects, this is a fitting film to transition viewers from awards season to the movie no man's land of midwinter — itself a variety of time travel. In a mere 93 minutes, Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke succeed in erasing virtually all memory of those hours we spent in LA's Dolby Theatre. They almost make us feel like we never left our humble multiplex at all.

When we last saw Lou (Corddry), Nick (Robinson) and Jacob (Duke), they'd traveled back to 1986 and learned touching lessons during an encounter with their younger selves. As it turns out, there were other takeaways. Lou used his knowledge of the future to "invent the internet" and become the gazillionaire head of Lougle Enterprises. Nick rose to fame by recording favorite songs that had yet to be written in 1986. Lisa Loeb makes a very funny appearance as a fan who tells Nick she loves his latest, "Stay (I Missed You)," though listening to it makes her feel oddly "violated." Hey, for February, that's clever stuff.

Then somebody shoots Lou in the penis, and the stooges hop back in the hot tub. They hope to travel to the past to prevent the shooting, but wind up in 2025 instead. The future, we discover, is not so much dystopian as downright dirty. Sure, dogs fly on hoverboards and cars drive themselves. But, more importantly, the most popular program on TV is called "Choozy Doozy," and entertainment can take the form of contestants engaging in virtual anal rape. "We're not calling it 'rape,' are we?" pleads a shaken Adam Scott, who's just found himself on the receiving end of a televised challenge with Nick. Scott plays Adam Jr., the son of the character played in the first film by John Cusack.

We also learn that future technology has made tremendous strides in the arena of self-gratification, and digital do-it-yourself devices provide the basis for many a gross-out gag. Then there are the pop-culture riffs. They flew fast and furious in the first film and, if anything, fly faster and more furiously here, with shout-outs to everything from "Duck Dynasty" to The Terminator. I lost count of the references to Bruce Willis — these bros are seriously into Bruce.

Directed by Steve Pink and penned by Josh Heald, this is the rare sequel that equals the original. Obviously, we're talking film fun at its dumbest, but Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is undeniably fun. Half the jokes may miss, but the filmmakers machine-gun so many that it hardly matters. I guarantee you'll be offended by some, but I promise you'll laugh your head off at others.

Imagine a comic cross-pollination of Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler and the loopiest Will Ferrell-Adam McKay collaborations. Now imagine it dumbed down and dirtied up to within an inch of releasability. That's pretty much the vision here: a gut-busting glimpse into a future where only the cars are smart.