It’s hard to imagine people complaining out loud that this film did not live up to the promise of the first installment. It’s akin to the philosophical proposition that Scary Movie 6 is nowhere near as good as Scary Movie 5 was. Clearly, the first that Hot Tub Time Machine was full of classic cinematic tropes, like Craig Robinson fishing BMW keys out of a dog’s butt. But this one features more fictive explorations of trauma theory alongside phenomenological interrogations of hetero-normative hegemonies: A hot female doctor puts a long needle into Adam Scott’s testicles, releasing fluid onto onlooker’s faces, thereby enhancing the risible nature of pieface and baggypants simultaneously.
So think through the qualitative differences before you leap. In this soak, Lou (Rob Corddry), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Jacob (Clark Duke) live opulently in a present altered by the actions of the last film and are just about to realize how shallow they have become when Lou gets shot in the groin. They decide to head back in time to prevent the humiliating assassination, if that’s the right word, when they find themselves in the future. Convoluted logic supplied by a super-puffy Chevy Chase allows them to understand that the only way to affect the past is to alter the future. And if you understand that, you are probably too stoned to go to the movies anyways.
However dumb the movie is, life in the future provides plenty of pretext for satire: a game show hosted by Christian Slater, ladybug stickers that cause 24-hour hallucinations, and Smart cars with murderous computer brains. The movie begins slowly, but when you abandon the idea of a plot, the whole shtick becomes surprisingly okay. This is way better than any that Scary Movie, and it has good Lisa Loeb jokes, too.