9 Better Movies That Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Recommends To Its Own Audience

By  · Published on February 24th, 2015

Paramount Pictures

Although referring to movie review aggregator and delicious source of vegetables (fruit? the debate rages on) Rotten Tomatoes to contextualize a movie’s reception can be a little reductive, it’s a convenient enough shortcut when used responsibly – like right now, when the Tomatometer directs us to a dire 13% Rotten rating for last weekend’s new release, Hot Tub Time Machine 2. The first film actually earned itself a mostly respectable 63% Fresh rating – comedies often don’t fare so well on the meter, especially ones that are both high concept and refreshingly dumb – making that 50% drop smart even more acutely. Also of note? No one really went to see the film, meaning that moviegoers either a) listened to the critics or b) actually didn’t care to a sequel. The film made only $5.9M over the weekend (per BoxOfficeMojo), placing it in seventh place, behind returning features like Fifty Shades of Grey and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Of the weekend’s wide openers, it was the lowest-earning release.

And there’s a reason for that: the movie is bad. Our own Rob Hunter gave it a D+ (my personal favorite grade, because it implies that a movie is both terrible, but with just enough good stuff going on to keep it from being a full-blown failure). Hunter summed it up quite nicely, writing “it’s early, but Hot Tub Time Machine 2 has secured a healthy lead as the worst sequel of 2015. Your move, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.” He also calls it “terribly unfunny,” which the perfect description of nearly every element of the film. Well, except for one thing: the other movies that Hot Tub Time Machine 2 itself recommends for its viewing audience, which are all better than the feature at hand.

1. Back to the Future

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is still a time travel movie and, as such, it feels the need to refer to other, better time travel movies throughout if only to contextualize what is actually happening on screen (a move that’s both very clever and deeply stupid, all at the same time). Back to the Future is one of its favorite touchstones, a reference point that only makes us want to watch Back to the Future again instead of dipping a toe back into the rancid waters of this particular Hot Tub.

2. National Treasure

Yes, National Treasure is referenced in the film. Yes, National Treasure is better than Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Yes, this is confusing.

3. Lord of the Rings

A stray reference to Rob Corddry looking like a busted Gandalf is an instant reminder that, hey, Lord of the Rings wasn’t that bad. Certainly better than The Hobbit series, and definitely better than Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

4. The Terminator

The time travel mechanics of Hot Tub Time Machine 2 don’t always make sense, although star Clark Duke does break out a handy on-screen graphic that alleviates some of the more complex bits with the kind of wit and pop the film is mostly lacking. More on-screen graphics! Another thing that helps? Craig Robinson’s constant comparisons to The Terminator. Shockingly, it’s a pretty fair parallel.

5. Looper

The plot of Hot Tub Time Machine 2 centers on trying to find out who came back in time to shoot Lou (Corddry) in the wang, a far-reaching search that somehow involves paging through various possible gunmen with little rhyme or reason. Maybe Lou did it to himself! Maybe this is a Looper fan film! Just go watch Looper.

6. Lawnmower Man

At a certain point, Hot Tub Time Machine 2’s reference points begin to really wear on the audience, if only because they make it obvious that the film’s creators went into this project with a strong understanding of not only time travel features, but otherwise inventive and unique outings. This is a team that knows movies – good movies, classic movies – but is unable to translate that into their own finished project. Is Hot Tub Time Machine 2 a cautionary tale for filmmakers? I don’t know, but now I want to watch Lawnmower Man.

7. Boogie Nights


8. Superman

The 1978 Richard Donner outing, of course.

9. Notting Hill

This is in my notes for some reason, and is thus referenced at some point in Hot Tub Time Machine 2, perhaps during a last act scene that sees Corddry begging for mercy from a self-driving car.

And even a bonus television series!

10. Fringe

There’s nothing like making fun of a dedicated fanbase to earn goodwill, right?