Monday, August 31, 2015

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Review

It's interesting that I watched A Clockwork Orange and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 in the span of a week, as both inhabit a realm fueled on cruelty. Clockwork is fully aware of the depravity that its characters and world thrive on and never try to disguise its main character, Alex, as anything other than a despicable figure we should deeply loathe. On the other hand, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 has a similar streak of savagery, but it instead tries to pass off its various characters and their wicked actions as something we should find endearing.

Frankly, I've rarely encountered this level of tone-deafness in a motion picture, to the point where, towards the conclusion of this endless film, I was certain it all had to be a joke. There was no way the filmmakers behind this repulsive creation could be this clueless, right? But alas, once a sappy ending comes to pass, it's all too apparent this feature has no clue about the uncomfortable morality its story hinges on, which seems appropriate considering the script, directing and acting are similarly inept.

Much of that pervasive cruelty comes from Lou (Rob Corddry), who has used the titular time travel device to make himself a millionaire. His pal Nick (Craig Robinson) has similarly become a pop star through the magic of time travel, while Lou's son, Jacob (Clark Duke) is relegated to just being his dads butler. Once Lou is shot, they decide to use the time machine to find his killer, though they son find their hunt for the murderer takes them to the future, specifically the year 2025.

While the trio races to find the killer, I found myself being completely unable to care about their mission, mainly because, like I said, Lou is a perfect encapsulation of the entire movies mean-spirited yet oblivious atmosphere. Nary a scene can go by without Lou engaging in some sort of act of cruelty the film thinks will come off as humorous when in fact it just comes off as the movie being desperate to create something resembling a joke.  The rest of the script is, like the character of Lou, filled with so much vile and unpleasantness that's presented as "humor" that the entire screenplay comes off as nothing more than the ramblings of a deranged individual with serious issues to work out.

For instance, the film seems to think the mere sight of Adam Jr. (Adam Scott), a resident of the future, always wearing a skirt is funny. Because guys just wearing womens clothing is inherently funny, right guys? And what about the scene where Nick rapes Adam Jr. on a game show, huh? Oh man, gay sex is sooooo funny you guys!!! Who needs actual humor and jokes in a comedy when we can just depict sequences filled with rampant homophobia?!? It's just tiring to experience this sort of odious content, especially since female characters in this universe similarly experience dismal treatment.

If I was unaware of the films blink-and-miss it theatrical run this past February, I'd honestly believe Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was a direct-to-video release thanks to its shoddy as hell production values. Once the gang arrives in the future, only Jacobs house takes advantage of the visual opportunities the future can provide, and even then his sleekly designed domain kept reminding me of the chrome laced future in the Spongebob episode SB-129. Otherwise, the environments they encounter in the future are blandly designed, and other elements in this time period also receive very little thought (despite a decade having passed, the wives of Jacob and Lou look no different in 2025 than they did in 2015). But really, when a film like Hot Tub Time Machine 2 seems to think gay sex is the height of humor, is one going to expect it to put any actual thought into its production design or script?

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