Movie Review: Hot Tub Time Machine
Hot Tub Time Machine is one of those magical movies (like Snakes on a Plane) with a title so fantastically straightforward that it effectively summarizes its plot. If you’re anything like me, you’ve already made plans to see the movie based purely on the awesomeness of its title. If you aren’t like me, well, I’m going to try to convince you to see it anyway.
Again, the plot it simple. 4 dudes, 1 tub. They’re going back to 1986. That’s pretty much it. Throw in a couple of running gags involving ’80s icon Chevy Chase as a mystical janitor of sorts and Crispin Glover as a one-armed bellhop, and you’ve got a formula for comic genius.
Like the classic ’80s Cusack flick, Better off Dead, Hot Tub gets kick-started by a failed suicide attempt. It’s a pretty dark theme for a movie like this, but it has succeeded in inciting hilarity in both instances. Also like Better off Dead, the heart of the movie is centered around a ski resort. The retro-movie allusions don’t end there.
Once they go back in time, the guys are faced with two major dilemmas:
- Should we do things differently or the same as we did the first time around?
- How the hell do we get this hot tub to take us back to the present?
Each of the buddies come face-to-face with something that has plagued them since the same fateful day in 1986, whether it be a breakup-induced fork stabbing, a notoriously bad concert performance or a straight-up ass whooping. What if they handled one thing differently? That would alter everything in their lives from that point forward. Holy shit, it’s just like The Butterfly Effect!
Clark Duke’s character becomes especially concerned about how these imbeciles handle things. He’s the 20-year-old nephew of Cusack’s character and his entire existence could hinge on a particular… um, event happening during this weekend.
Hot Tub Time Machine was directed by Steve Pink, who co-wrote two of my all-time favorites: High Fidelity and Gross Point Blank, both of which also star John Cusack. As in those films, Cusack’s character in Hot Tub is extremely regretful about his past relationships. This time, though, he’s lucky enough to have the opportunity to go back and change the way he handled things. He provides the majority of the movie’s more sensitive moments.
Rob Corddry is the hard-partying member of the group and he’s responsible for most of the movie’s raunch and profanity. He’s understandably outlandish, but he becomes more irritating as the movie wears on. Craig Robinson is great, as always, delivering the perfect comedic tone and timing we have come to expect from him.
Hot Tub is a hilarious blend of nostalgic homage, slapstick and gross-out humor. It loses a little steam (pardon the pun) towards the end when we start to get into all the technicalities of the time-traveling mumbo-jumbo, but the ending credits sequence more than makes up for it.
RIYL: Better off Dead, The Hangover, Old School, Motley Crue.