Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Year 8, Day 216 - 8/3/16 - Movie #2,411

BEFORE: Well, I crossed two time-travel films off the list in February, "About Time" and "Twice Upon a Yesterday", and last fall I watched "Safety Not Guaranteed", but I still have a few more to go.  Attempts to link the four films that remain, even indirectly, have been futile, so I'm going to link to one tonight, and I've got a second one planned for August, that will leave just two on the list, "Project Almanac" and "The Butterfly Effect 2".  

John Cusack carries over from "Maps to the Stars" - umm, at least I think he does.  The IMDB says he has an uncredited role in this sequel, which could mean that he's only in it for a minute, or it could mean that all of his scenes were shot in one day, like they did with Bruce Willis in "Planet Terror".  It's pretty easy to notice that Willis never shared the screen with the other stars, so possibly this was done as a courtesy for his schedule, or because the film couldn't afford him for more than one day.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Hot Tub Time Machine" (Movie #1,108)

THE PLOT: When Lou finds himself in trouble, Nick and Jacob fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past - but they inadvertently land in the future.  

AFTER: You know, it's summer, you think about vacations, and for me that means Comic-Con, and that means all things geek-related, as evidenced by my movie selections of the past week or so - everything from zombies to pleasure robots to ghosts, plus Hollywood celebrities and the pseudo-archeological B.S. of "Hudson Hawk".  And time travel seemed like it was going to fit right in there, it really did.  

But I've been looking at the big picture recently, and trying to figure out the endgame for the year - as such, I have two holiday movies on the watchlist, "The Night Before" and "A Merry Friggin' Christmas", without a direct link between them.  I realized too late that "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" is the perfect movie to connect them - Jason Jones is also in "The Night Before", and Clark Duke is also in "A Merry Friggin' Christmas".  Arrrgggh! Why didn't I realize this until it was too late?  Now I have to watch four movies in between them to link them, what if I don't have enough slots at the end of the year?  

And honestly, if I'd known that John Cusack wasn't really going to be appearing in this film, I would have moved it down on the schedule, instead of moving "Still Alice".  I could have followed the Julianne Moore link out of "Maps to the Stars" and then followed "Still Alice" with "Concussion", and gone from there.  Now I've got a lot more work to do, searching for links in the wee hours when I should be sleeping.

What also bothers me is that John Cusack isn't really in this film at all, so I feel I was sort of hoodwinked by his listing in the IMDB.  Oh, there are still photos of him, so on that level it (sort of) counts, but if I'd known that the actor avoided appearing in the sequel, I could have moved the film to a better place on the schedule.  

And I was really looking forward to this one, because I gave the first "Hot Tub" film a 7 rating - but this is just nowhere even close to that.  Whatever worked in the first film - the comedy, the mystery and the working of time travel, the way it spun the plot of "Back to the Future" around, only in the 1980's instead of the 1950's - all of that gone.  Down the hot tub drain, so to speak.  When we last saw our heroes at the end of "HTTM", they'd returned to their present and found it in a much better state than they'd left it in.  Adam was married to his girlfriend, Nick had become a major recording star, and Lou was a major internet businessman, the creator of "Lougle", and also the lead singer for Motley Lou.   

I can appreciate that someone didn't want to just repeat the plot of "HTTM" by sending the characters back into the past.  So in this scenario, they travel to the future instead.  The mysterious hot tub repairman informs them that the hot tub takes them to where (when) they NEED to go, rather than where (when) they WANT to go.  Wait, so someone's in charge?  If so, who is it - God?  The devil? Einstein?  And if so, what's their motivation for making certain things happen?  What's the divine plan, because as far as I can tell from this sequel, there really isn't one.  

One of the few TV shows that I'm current on (I'm working on catching up on TV from April to July, the upcoming Olympics should make this possible, if I work hard...) is "12 Monkeys", and this show follows a similar "send me back, I have to change the past" sort of formula.  And technically this type of time travel shouldn't work, because if you want to kill baby Hitler, let's say, and you succeed, then there never WAS a baby Hitler, so you wouldn't have any motivation to go back and kill him.  So then you don't, and baby Hitler is back, which means that adult Hitler is back, and you've accomplished nothing.  Anyway, "12 Monkeys" got into a similar rut, from changing the past too many times, and they avoid the paradox by showing the changes to the time stream as a wave moving through time in both directions, but that's neither here nor there - they're going to avoid the issue entirely for next season by similarly sending their characters into their future. 

Which doesn't really work, either - how can you send someone into the future if it doesn't exist yet?  Are you merely sending them into a possible future, and can gaining knowledge there help to change the present once you return to it, and therefore ensure that future never comes to pass?  Unless, of course, you like it, in which case can you work to preserve it?  The three Cusack-less heroes of "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" travel to the future by accident, only to find out that, as Meat Loaf once sang, "The Future's Not What It Used to Be".  Yeah, neither is this film franchise.  

They only go 10 years forward, but even if you assume 5 years taking place between films, how is Adam's son an adult in the year 2025?  Did Adam have a son in the new timeline much earlier than we thought?  Once he joins the trio, they run down a list of possible suspects to determine who's going to kill Lou in the future, even though technically this happened in the past.  But the hot tub repairman says that "The future is the past", which leads them to believe that the killer is from the future, because the killer hasn't done the killing yet, he'll need to travel back to the past to do it.  Umm, or something like that. 

But even if this is a coherent idea, and I'm not saying that it is, the film sidetracks itself with too many extraneous things, like a TV show called "Choozy Doozy", which sounds fairly innocent but suggests that game shows will one day use virtual reality technology for some illicitly graphic purposes.  Beyond that, TV shows will devolve to the point where watching buildings collapse on children will be considered entertainment.  (This, in fact, already happened - there used to be a show on Discovery Channel called "Destroyed in Seconds" that was just explosions and plane crashes, and my wife and I watched the heck out of it...)

There are a ton of other half-baked ideas about what the future will be like, including skirts for men, driverless cars that hunt people down to run them over, and nanobots that can flush dangerous drugs out of someone's system, but also make their testicles huge for some reason.  But even worse is the fact that the big twist that allows the stranded heroes to return to the past just doesn't work (nope, nope, nope) and even worse than THAT is the film's ending, which not only blatantly opened the possibility of another sequel, but was used in the film's commercials, and gave a false impression of what HTTM 2 would be like.  It's not cool to open up this whole "we can go anywhere and save all of history" box, but only explore it during the closing credits.  

If the BEST and funniest material in your film appears only during the closing credits, you have to wonder why that stuff wasn't included in the film itself.  This film only proved to me how lame the concept was, and why most people wouldn't know how to really use a time machine - because you could go anywhere, do anything, and you chose THAT?  How very lame.  If I could go back in time, I'd go back to try to convince myself not to watch this.  But knowing me, I probably wouldn't listen to myself, so it's better just to watch it, admit that it's terrible, and move on.

(EDIT: It appears that John Cusack did make a cameo, but only in the "unrated" version.  And from what I just read, it doesn't change the plot at all, or improve anything.  Either way, the damage to my chain has been done - thanks a lot, guys.)

Also starring Rob Corddry (last seen in "Sex Tape"), Craig Robinson (last seen in "Get On Up"), Clark Duke (last seen in "Kick-Ass 2"), Adam Scott (last seen in "They Came Together"), Gillian Jacobs (last seen in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone"), Collette Wolfe, Jason Jones (last seen in "Against the Ropes"), Kumali Nanjiani (also last seen in "Sex Tape"), Bianca Haase, Kellee Stewart, with cameos from Chevy Chase (last seen in "National Lampoon: Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead"), Lisa Loeb, Jessica Williams (last seen in "Delivery Man"), Christian Slater (last seen in "Masked and Anonymous"), Thomas Lennon.

RATING: 3 out of 10 Beatle wigs

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