HOT TUB TIME MACHINE
**** (out of 5)
March 26, 2010
John Cusack as ADAM
Clark Duke as JACOB
Craig Robinson a NICK
Rob Corddry a LOU
Sebastian Tan as BLAINE
Lyndsy Foneca as JENNIE
Crispin Glover a PHIL
Directed by: Steve Pink
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I remember several month ago first hearing about the film “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Back then, I thought it was a joke. Then I watched the trailer, and I laughed out loud at Craig Robinson saying, “It must be some sort of hot tub time machine.”
Still, I recognized the premise as being very thin. I’m talking Calista-Flockhart-on-crack thin. But I was still ready to give it a chance, especially after seeing how hard MGM was working to get the word out about the film.
As self-explanatory a the title is, there’s a bit more to it. Three guys in their forties see their lives falling apart, so they run away for the weekend with one of the guy’s nephew (because he was at his uncles, not for any creepy reason, mind you) and head to their favorite vacation spot from their glory days. However, when they get there, they discover that the resort has fallen into disrepair. But when they spend a drunken night in the hot tub by the suite, they accidentally activate the time travel element in the controls. They wake up with raging hangovers in the mid-1980s.
I know, I know. It’s still pretty thin.
But this movie does the most it can with such a thin premise. In fact, the thin premise is what makes the movie work. Often what happen with a movie that has such a silly or bizarre hook like a hot tub time machine, it cobbles itself by cramming a real story into the plot. That’s necessary to some degree, and it works in films like “The Hangover” and “Wedding Crashers,” but it shouldn’t change the tone of the film.
“Hot Tub Time Machine” manages to strike a balance between raunchy comedy and a film with heart. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it won’t kid itself into thinking that the characters are going to grow through a complex story arc. The film – and more importantly, the actors – know that this is just a stupid film, and that’s why it works.
We expect a good performance from John Cusack, but it’s Clark Duke, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson that click in this film. Plus, there’s an awesome supporting role from Crispin Glover that steals the show. And with Glover’s presence, I can’t help but give a nod to the role that made him famous, describing “Hot Tub Time Machine” as “Back to the Future” with an R rating and a hot tub instead of a Delorean.
While the movie has plenty of raunchy, sexual and over-the-top moments, it doesn’t try too hard with them. Instead of becoming a Judd Apatow wannabe, “Hot Tub Time Machine” emerges as its own film with its own laughs and a somewhat predictable but still wildly entertaining story.
Finally, and I’m speaking to my own generation here rather than the iGeneration, the 80s nostalgia in this film is a lot of fun. As a child of the 80s, there’s something warm and electric about watching a movie filled with pastel-colored stretch pants, big hair and synthesized soundtracks.
Of course, I know from living through them that the 80s could be as cold and depressing as today, but this film managed to give the decade the “That 70s Show” treatment by reveling in the era without really caring about the reality of the trip. By the end of the movie, I was ready to jump in any hot tub I came across in the hopes that I’d be transported back to the decade of excess.
Fortunately for everyone else involved, I did not run across any hot tubs on my way home from the screening.