In 2009, I graduated Western Illinois University with a Bachelor’s in English and a minor in Film and Print & Broadcast Media. I was a media junkie and a media jack-of-all-trades. That summer, I knew it was only a matter of time before I wrote a novel that blew everyone away.
Fast forward to 2011, and I self-published my first book. It was supposed to be an edgy, gritty, and existential coming-of-age story about some backwoods kid who spent most of his time consuming advertising. Some people told me that they genuinely enjoyed it, and others changed the topic when I asked them about it at social gatherings.
I was 23 at the time. After it released, I sat back and waited. For what? Ultimately, nothing. With my university degree in my belt, I spent a few years in a plateau. I was carrying around a piece of paper that said I had learned something, and in hindsight, I used it as an excuse to stop learning.
I usually have a home for movie reviews, but this one is an exception. There was a mix-up over at the usual place, Drunk Monkeys, and I didn’t want to abandon this write-up. It was too much fun to write.
When I first saw Hot Tub Time Machine back in 2010, I was pleasantly surprised. It was an entertaining buddy movie that yearned for something more, that came packaged with a soul and an ethos, and with its powerful heart, it took great strides to comfort us and lead us on a journey toward self-discovery and catharsis. Hot Tub Time Machine was as much an exercise in great dark comedy as it was a purge of all that was wrong in our lives, and it came loaded with characters that were funny yet so very human. It had all the markings of a truly great movie, and one could tell it was a labor of love, carefully crafted by an adept team.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2, on the other hand, casts itself far astray from its predecessor. In this sequel, we find our regular cast of characters (Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke – John Cusack is absent this time around) living the good future they’ve carved out for themselves in their last outing. But they’re unhappy. Ego and wealth has seized hold of them, and in Corddry’s case, has turned him into a frustratingly awful monster that no one, not even his wife or son, can stand. It’s during the middle of a party where Fate propels them on another adventure, as a cloaked assassin shoots Corddry in the family jewels. The team rallies together and plunges through the pool of time to find this assassin and halt a “friend’s” murder.
Along the way, our protagonists meet up with Adam Scott, cast as a replacement to and a bastard child of John Cusack’s character. And it’s through Scott that Robinson, Duke, and Corddry discover they weren’t just propelled into the future, they were cast onto an alternate timeline, a recurring joke intended to spoof several popular movie franchises as of late, most notably The Terminator franchise. After a convoluted exposition and an overdone foundation for time travel, hilarity ensues.
So the audience waits. And waits. And waits. The sounds of candy wrappers and teeth mashing popcorn echo off the walls of the theater. A few people cough. Someone blows snot into tissue paper. A cell phone warbles the classic Power Rangers theme through a pair of jeans. But no one laughs. The audience is so stoic, I find myself wondering if I accidentally stumbled into a screening of American Sniper. Nope. Rob Corddry is onscreen vomiting penis jokes at a mile a minute. And no one is laughing.