“Hot Tub Time Machine 2” continues the adventures begun, obviously, in “Hot Tub Time Machine,” a modest hit from 2010.
On that movie, director Steve Pink and star John Cusack continued a theme they established in both “Grosse Pointe Blank” and “High Fidelity,” which they co-wrote.
In all three movies, Cusack’s character is deeply unsatisfied with his lot in life and finds that looking into the past — figuratively or literally — might hold the key to his future.
A passionate, romantic longing drove all three, fueling the humor and character development.
Unfortunately, “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” — while containing a few mid-sized laughs — doesn't have a similar reason for existing.
Noticeably, Cusack isn't among the main quartet here. Adam Scott, who portrays Adam Jr. (the Cusack character's future son), replaces him.
Now, instead of going back in time in search of a second chance, cohorts Lou (Rob Corddry), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Jacob (Clark Duke), literally travel through time to save Lou's private parts: Lou, a wealthy rock star who invented an Internet browser, is shot in the crotch by an unknown assailant.
The trio jumps in the tub, hoping to travel to the past to prevent it, but winds up in 2025.
With a clue from the mysterious repairman (Chevy Chase), they kinda-sorta attempt to figure out who the killer is, while realizing that their own futures aren't so bright.
The movie is really about sex jokes, jokes the characters make at each other's expense, wild parties, and a vague subplot about drug and alcohol addiction.
Cusack, capable of delivering a funny line, used to be the heart of this group. Scott is funny, but he's a goofball, a cartoon character like the others. Some attempt is made to crowbar Duke into the lead spot, but he doesn't quite make it.
It seems as if no one knew what they were doing here, or what they wanted to say, and so it's up to the cast to kill time riffing on each other.
Sure, they can be funny, but it's unlikely the laughs will stick in viewers’ memories, rootless and pointless as they are.
“Hot Tub Time Machine 2” vaguely recalls a plot point in this year's terrific time travel movie “Predestination”: It’s an anomaly, something that showed up in the timeline, disconnected to anything that matters.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Two and a half stars
Starring Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott
Written by Josh Heald
Directed by Steve Pink
Running time 1 hour 33 minutes