Tag Archives: Rob Corddry

Let’s Not Do the Timewarp Again

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

by Hope Madden

Every year or so there’s a film that simply should not work, but does. Machete. Kick-Ass. Hot Tub Time Machine. And every year or so, Hollywood leeches what it can from the fresh, silly, undemanding body of that film with a lifeless and inexplicably mean-spirited sequel. I give you: Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

Lou (Rob Corddry) turned his miserable life around at that ski resort in 2010/1986. Or not. Turns out, Lou is still a big problem in that he’s a toxic asshole, so someone shoots him and it’s up to his remaining friends (Craig Robinson, Clark Duke – John Cusack is noticeably, wisely absent) to fire up the hot tub and stop the murder before it happens.

The fact that the hot tub sends them to the future hardly matters in this lazily scripted semen joke of a film.

Gone entirely, along with Cusack, are the charm and good nature of the original, the light heartedness that offset the darker edges and made the toilet humor and sex jokes almost endearing. It was a nostalgiafest, complete with “I want my two dollars!” shouted at John Cusack from a ski slope. Priceless.

With no such built in fondness for 2025, and Corddry in the lead, the sequel is just a smattering of self-referential gags held together with homophobia and misogyny.

Corddry is a magnificent, unseemly talent, but he’s not a lead. With Lou in the center of the film, rather than the charming, curmudgeonly everyman of Cusack, the movie substitutes an anchor for flailing misanthropy. That’s hard to build on.

The lack of a lead is one of the film’s larger concerns. Corddry, returning time-tripper Craig Robinson, and new 4th wheel Adam Scott are all comic talents, but also all side characters.

With Steve Pink returning to direct another script from Josh Heald, you might think lightning could strike twice, right? No. Let’s be honest, no one thought this film would be any good. We’re all still stunned that the lightweight goofiness of the original was as entertaining as it was. Who knows how that worked, but whatever ingenious, low-brow magic put Crispin Glover (two arms or one) at that ski lodge, it’s missing from the sequel.

But rape jokes are always funny, right?

Verdict-1-5-Stars

There’s Heart in the Wizz

 

by George Wolf

 

When I was young, my brother and I called it “the way back,” that place at the rear of an old station wagon just big enough for a kid to take refuge.

Nat Faxon and Jim Rash call that same area, and their new film, The Way, Way Back, a poignant and often very funny look at the bittersweet awkwardness of adolescence.

Faxon and Rash actually wrote the script years ago, but couldn’t get it sold. Then they won an Oscar in 2011 for co-writing The Descendants, and decided to spend their new Hollywood capital by resurrecting the old project and directing it themselves.

The centerpiece is 14 year old Duncan (Liam James), who is truly underjoyed at having to spend summer vacation with his mom Pam (Toni Collette), her tool boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) and his daughter.

Things start to look up when Duncan stumbles into a job at Water Wizz, the local water park (Water Wizz!). Falling under the tutelage of Owen, the Wizz manager (Sam Rockwell) Duncan gets a fresh outlook, as well as confidence enough to chat up cutie Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb).

Faxon and Rash establish themselves as a team with a bright future. Though less assured than The Descendants (the lack of director Alexander Payne might have something to do with that), The Way, Way Back is full of crisp dialogue, well formed characters and situations that, for the most part, ring true.

The ensemble cast (which also includes Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry, Faxon and Rash) is splendid, with Carell impressively playing against type, and the young James crafting Duncan as the wince-inducing personification of teenage nerdery.

As good as everyone is, this is Rockwell’s show to steal, and he’s hilariously guilty. A freewheeling mix of Bill Murray and Hawkeye Pierce, Owen unleashes a barrage of one liners and real world philosophy. As Duncan becomes more comfortable with his water fun family, a nice dichotomy is created between the d-bag father figure Trent smugly thinks he is, and the supercool one Owen easily becomes.

Some moments are a bit forced, but on the whole, this is the rare coming of age story that feels fresh. With a big heart that both adults and teens should find relatable, The Way, Way Back is the surprise gem of the summer.

 

Verdict-3-5-Stars