Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Is Unfunny and Juvenile

Plus, McFarland USA is surprisingly effective, and The Duff is solid, if unmemorable.

by | February 19, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got time-traveling hijinks (Hot Tub Time Machine 2, starring Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson), inspirational runners (McFarland USA, starring Kevin Costner and Maria Bello), and charming teens (The Duff, starring Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell). What do the critics have to say?


Hot Tub Time Machine 2

14%

2010’s Hot Tub Time Machine may have sported a high concept joke title, but it succeeded as a fairly effective — if silly and raunchy — comedy. How many more laughs could one hope to squeeze out of that premise, you ask? Judging from the critical response to its sequel, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, not many. This time out, the gang (sans John Cusack, who declined to return) attempts to utilize their time-traveling jacuzzi to jump back to the past and prevent a violent attack on Lou (Rob Corddry). Unfortunately, they end up skipping ten years into the future, where they find a new friend (Adam Scott) and attempt to locate the assassin. The pundits say Hot Tub Time Machine 2 squanders its talented cast on a lazy, witless script that relies too heavily on toilet humor and lacks the heart of its predecessor. (Watch our video interviews with the cast here.)



McFarland USA

80%

“Kevin Costner Sports Drama” might as well be its own genre at this point; the versatile star has tackled football, baseball, golf, and cycling on the big screen over the course of his career. In Disney’s McFarland USA, Costner branches out even further as a high school cross country coach, and critics say the result is a surprisingly satisfying underdog story. Based on true events, the film centers on disgraced football coach Jim White (Costner), who transitions to a new high school in an impoverished California town and decides to establish a cross-country team. Initially at odds with his students, White slowly earns their trust and transforms his ragtag running crew into a team of champions. The pundits say McFarland USA treads familiar ground, to be sure, but thanks to sure-handed direction by Niki Caro and a charismatic performance from Kevin Costner, it’s an earnest, effective tale that outpaces its genre kin.



The DUFF

73%

High school can be a difficult time, especially if you’re not one of the cool kids, and cinema is littered with the fractured egos of teenagers who reaped their comeuppance at the hands of enlightened freaks, geeks, and outcasts. This weekend, The Duff seeks to distinguish itself in a sea of coming-of-age teen comedies, and critics say it almost hits its mark. Mae Whitman stars as Bianca, a normal happy high school senior who learns everyone refers to her as “the DUFF” (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). Understandably mortified, Bianca enlists the help of her ex-BFF Wesley (Robbie Amell) to reinvent herself and shed her undesirable reputation, hoping to attract the attention of her crush in the process. The pundits say The DUFF is mostly charming, thanks to Mae Whitman’s charisma, and just unique enough to be worth a watch, even if it does send some mixed messages and rely on familiar themes.

What’s On TV:


Amazon’s uneven boilerplate police drama, Bosch, is sharpened by gritty atmosphere, solid acting, and some rousing, suspenseful turns.

Stars Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon make a fine Oscar and Felix, but The Odd Couple‘s flat jokes and canned laughter are pretty old hat.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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