Hot Tub Time Machine 2

 

Let’s time-travel ahead 5 years to this 2020 vision: It’s 3:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning. After a night on the town, you’re winding down by flipping through cable channels. Most are running infomercials for weight loss supplements, Bowflexes, etc. But, alas, Comedy Central has a movie!

It is Hot Tub Time Machine 2, which you have never seen. In a manner similar to that of a morbidly curious person staring at a horrible car crash, you are transfixed by the film’s awfulness. When a commercial comes on, you travel back in time by rewinding your live DVR and rewatching the previous 10 or so minutes to confirm that you actually saw what you thought you saw.

This film is unfunny and not at all entertaining. The story, of course, is absurd and hardly worth mentioning. But that was not a surprise. The shocker was the appropriate absolute silence from the preview audience in response to much of the movie’s script. Low comedy is okay; unfunny low comedy is a bore.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is a movie that, for me, stirred one particular emotion: pity. For the cast and crew whose names will be forever linked to this stinker via IMDB. Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Adam Scott, Jason Jones and Chevy Chase have all done worthwhile work, but HTTM2 is a shameful mess. Clark Duke is a lesser-known actor but he, too, like the aforementioned men, should’ve known better.

(Should you watch the above red band trailer, you’ll note that it says “This Christmas.” Apparently, somebody knew better than waste valuable holiday theater screens on this turkey.)

Okay, back to your future: On that late Saturday/early Sunday in 2020, you finally come to your senses and flip from Hot Tub Time Machine 2 to that Bowflex ad. And you are a happier person for having done so.

 

 

Sex Tape

Sex Tape is not a dirty movie. Yes, there’s nudity and sexual content and language galore but this film is designed to tickle more than titillate.

Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) are a loving married couple. In college, they had sex and lots of it, as illustrated by a hookup montage near the beginning of Sex Tape. But, as often happens with married couples, work and kids seriously impact their carnal couplings.

On a night when the kids are at mom’s, Annie and Jay go for it. Do they ever! They shoot for every position shown in the book The Joy of Sex. After 3 hours they are exhausted.

The next day Jay becomes aware that he has unknowingly shared the video with several people to whom he had given iPads. Jay and Annie go on a mission to recover those iPads. Their close friends Robby (Rob Corddry) and Tess (Ellie Kemper) are recruited to accompany them.

In a brilliant casting move, a key player in the film is Rob Lowe, who famously starred in a real life sex tape 1988. In Sex Tape, Lowe is Hank, a narcissistic marketing guy who wants to sign Annie to blog for his toy company.

Since he has one of the iPads, they go to his house. While Hank and Annie’s conversation leads to his offering her cocaine, Jay runs through the house looking for the iPad while being chased by a German Shepherd.

After Jay is finally satisfied that the iPads are wiped clean of the recording of their coital marathon, he learns that it has been uploaded to the internet. He and Annie—and their kids!—drive to the website’s headquarters to break in and destroy the computer servers. What happens when they get there won’t be revealed here.

When Jay is handed a thumb drive that contains the last remaining copy of their sex tape, he and Annie finally watch the thing, portions of which are included in the Sex Tape film. There’s some funny stuff here!

Sex Tape is the perfect film for a married couple date night. (Even if you’ve never made a sex tape.) Segel and Diaz are funny and charming. Rob Lowe is weirdly amusing. Unless you’re prudish, go and laugh.

 

 

 

In A World

Make way for a new showbiz triple threat! Lake Bell wrote and directed In A World and stars as the film’s central character Carol Solomon. The film is a romantic comedy, a family comedy and a workplace comedy.

Lake Bell’s is not a household name, but she has worked as an actor for years. I interviewed her for radio a decade ago when she was on a short-lived TV show called Miss Match. Now she adds feature film director and writer to her resume and I look forward to seeing what she delivers in the future. (She has also received great exposure this month with a nude cover shot for New York magazine.)

Carol Solomon is a voice coach who wants to make it big as an L.A. voice over talent, just like her father Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed) has done. His voce is anything but sotto—he has killer pipes and gets lots of work narrating movie trailers. Sam designates fellow voice talent Gustav Warner (Ken Marino) as the heir apparent to the real life announcer Don LaFontaine (noted for trailer scripts that begin with the words “In a world…”)

Sam tosses Carol out of his place because his girlfriend is moving in. Carol crashes with her sister Dani (Michela Watkins) and eventually causes her sister and her boyfriend Moe (Rob Corddry) to bust up. Meanwhile, Carol is in competition with Gustav for the plum gig of narrating the trailers for a new movie “quadrilogy.” When Gustav and Carol hook up, he doesn’t know (a) that she’s a voice talent and (b) her friend Sam’s daughter.

In A World is not gut busting funny, but it has its moments. I overheard a fellow critic call it “sitcomy.” In a way, the movie does recall elements of media-related workplace sitcoms (The Mary Tyler Moore Show and WKRP in Cincinnati come to mind) with its lineup of likeable second bananas and oddball tertiary characters. Plus plot points that circle back to earlier setups.

The cast also includes Demetri Martin, Nick Offerman and Tig Notaro as recording studio personnel. Eva Longoria cameos as herself, doing ADR dubbing. Geena Davis appears as a movie studio head. (The formerly glamorous Davis also serves as a sad example of bad plastic surgery.)

In A World is rated R, mainly for language. This is a movie for grownups that is nicely paced and thoroughly entertaining. It clocks in at 93 minutes.

Oddly, the trailer for In A World, is one of those that gives away many of the movie’s best lines. Skip the trailer, but see this movie about trailers. As has been written in bad commercial copy read by voice talents for decades, “You’ll be glad you did!”