Hot Tub Time Machine
Running Time: 101 minutes
Starring: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Chevy Chase, Crispin Glover, Lizzy Caplan, Collette Wolfe
Directed By: Steve Pink
Rating: 6 out of 10
4 friends are sent into the past to 1986 and must work together to find a way back without changing the future.
There have been many time travelling devices in cinematic history. There was the DeLorean in Back to the Future. There was the gold pedal invention from The Time Machine. There was even the phone booth from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. All of those plus many more and a hot tub is easily the strangest time machine of the bunch. Hot Tub Time Machine is the story of four friends that have become estranged and come together for a weekend of fun (Adam, Jacob, Nick, and Lou). After a huge night of partying in a ski resort hotel room, they decide to take a dip in the hot tub only to be transported back to 1986. They must relive a fateful night and make sure to do everything over the exact same way as to not affect the future.
So if this movie seems ridiculous and dumb to you that is because it is ridiculous and dumb. That doesn’t stop it from being funny though and that is all that matters. The movie starts and it introduces us to the 4 main characters. Adam is a down on his luck guy who just broke up with his girlfriend. Adam’s nephew Jacob is a nerdy recluse who hangs out in his basement all day. Nick is a wannabe singer who is stuck in a job he hates. Finally there is Lou; he is a suicidal alcoholic and the asshole of the group. The four of them head out to a ski resort that was the spot of many great memories from their youth. The resort they remember so fondly is now derelict, but it doesn’t stop them from partying in their disgusting room and taking a dip in the hot tub. The tub transports them back in time and the hilarity can finally begin. The story is atrocious but it only fuels the jokes as Nick looks directly into the camera and deadpans “Must be some kind of….hot tub time machine.” This attempt at letting the audiences know that even the actors think this movie is stupid is a big risk but it works. The first half of the film is nothing more than the guys drinking booze and bickering with each other. There are some funny scenes of Lou removing a catheter and Nick going wrist deep in a dog to remove a blockage. The jokes never get deeper than that and are coupled with liberal drug references and easy sex jokes.
Adam is played by John Cusack and he is what keeps this movie from being great. I give him kudos for doing a movie outside his comfort level but it shows on his face that he hates every minute of it. He glides from scene to scene looking bored and disengaged. He really sucked a lot of the energy out of the film for me and his performance was disappointing. Cusack is luckily bailed out by a trio of funnymen who are on point for most of the film. Nick is played by the underrated Craig Robinson. His delivery is perfect and his barely contained anger of his wife cheating on him and how he hates his job are great for this film. Jacob is played by the always funny Clark Duke and he adds his youth and sarcastic one liners to a film that desperately needed it. Finally there is Lou played by Rob Corddry. He plays this foul mouthed loser that just wants to party and have sex at any cost. Some people will find him obnoxious but I thought he made the film. The four of them are an odd group but they work in a weird way.
As they slowly discover that they somehow have been sent back in time they must decide what to do next. They agree to repeat everything as to not affect the future but it soon goes awry. Set to an awesome eighties soundtrack the four of them all stray from the plan and create new stories and paths for themselves. Jokes can be had from seeing sisters/mothers having sex in the past. Jokes can be found from seeing terrible 80’s clothes and pop culture references. Jokes can be had from seeing a bellhop having his arm being chopped off. Lastly jokes can be had as the four of them use their knowledge of the future to some disastrous results. Trying to rediscover their lost friendship is hard to do when all of them hate their lives so much. This film is a mess and misses on plenty of the jokes but does enough right to get my vote. It is also one of those films that gets funnier the more times you watch it.
Director Steve Pink did not have an especially hard job in shooting this film. The movie is so stupid he just needed to point the camera and shoot. He has a funny cast and somehow coaxes a pretty funny film out of a topic that shouldn’t have worked so I will give him props for that. If he tightened up some of the humor and didn’t go over the top this film might have been filed under a classic. Things like Alf references and Nick’s monster afro are just a couple examples of lame jokes that really held this movie back. Overall this movie is an entertaining watch so he did a solid job.
I give this movie a recommendation and it is better than I thought it was going to be.
T Factor + If you like stupid humor than this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like John Cusack as an actor than this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Accepted, Grandma’s Boy.