If it wasn’t apparent that John Cusack was the glue that held together the 2010 comedy Hot Tub Time Machine. And in retrospect now that we’ve seen the Cusack-less Hot Tub Time Machine 2, it seems as if his presence inspired co-stars Rob Cordray, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke to raise their game somewhat for the first film. With the box office receipts disappointing for the second film, blame fell, in part, on Cusack’s non-involvement.
But what if Cusack had appeared in the film? As it turns out, he almost was and speaking to Jeff Goldsmith on a recent installment of The Q & A Podcast, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 writer and director Steve Pink told the story –
One big surprise, that people don’t know about, is that he [Cusack] actually does a cameo in the movie. For various reasons he ended up not being in the final cut… I don’t know if he’ll be in the extended cut of the DVD.
Wait. Tell us. Are you able to say? Can you tell us what it was?
Yeah! What happens is he, and maybe in retrospect it was a mistake not to put it in, it was one of those weird little things… It was interesting because maybe it would have been great to have him in. And I’ll tell you what the beat was in a second. Maybe I think, in terms of the reaction to the film, maybe they would have said it was a terrible cameo and he would have been hurt by it as well. Who knows? Or maybe people would have loved it. It’s to say. I thought it was great.
It’s so hard to explain. Rob Cordry gets his head blown off and it is actually John Cusack who kills him with a shotgun. Then John comes out and Adam Scott’s like “Why did my dad just kill Lou?” And then Clark says “Well, he must have had a pretty good reason,” which is great. And then John says “There’s no time to explain, we have to go!” and they’re like “Where?” and he says “Cincinnati.”
So it’s the Cincinnati Box that they’ve been talking about for the last two movies?
Exactly. And then John disappears and then Patriot Lou comes out and then we got into the end of our movie.
But it made for a very odd ending at that time because a lot of the responses we got was they love John Cusack, because people love John and he’s great, but it was confusing. They wanted to see more of him. Why did he just come and shoot Lou and then leave? So there was a feeling that it wasn’t actually very satisfying… In that moment that it was decided that they wouldn’t use that cameo maybe we sealed our fate in terms of that element and maybe we should have had him in no matter what because it was so crazy.
While I would like to see that cameo, if only for curiosity’s sake, I have to agree with Pink that it just isn’t that satisfying a moment for the film. Perhaps if there was a strong possibility of a third film than maybe it would work better, but as part of the ending for just the second film in itself it doesn’t. And let’s not forget that the cameo was set up earlier in the film when Cusack’s character’s long black coat is found next to the titular hot tub.
As for what shape that a third Hot Tub Time Machine installment might take, Pink divulges a few things, referencing both the Comedy Central series Drunk History and the classic Stand By Me. He also hinted that a third film could also deal with the four characters in their adolescence in the 1970s in Cincinnati and with the aforementioned Cincinnati Box. You can listen to the whole interview here.