Movie Review: Hot Tub Time Machine
Soak It Up
Disclaimer: I feel that it is only proper that I let you readers know that I am 100% the exact demographic for this film, and as such I am aware that this in no way will be a fair assessment of the film’s actual merit, because, quite frankly, I shamefully and unabashedly loved the crap out of it. I was a teenager in the eighties, and thus I am incapable of objectively reviewing this film. Nostalgia got the best of me, and I was as giddy as my 17 year old self after imbibing 1/2 of a Bartles & James wine cooler. Forgive me Ebert, for I have sinned….
Director Steve Pink must be a sorcerer. How else do you explain being able to make a movie this fun based on quite possibly the most stupid premise, ever? Seriously, a hot tub that turns into a time machine? I’ll be damned if he hasn’t made a worthy opponent to The Hangover, and I think that Hot Tub Time Machine might be slightly more audacious than its predecessor. From the opening chords of Autograph’s “Turn Up the Radio” I was hooked.
John Cusack stars as Adam, whose live-in girlfriend has just moved out of his house, and took everything she could get her hands on out of the house before leaving.
Craig Robinson is Nick, who had aspirations of lighting the musical world on fire, but is now relegated to grooming dogs at the ‘Sup Dawg’ dog boarding kennel.
Both men are summoned to the hospital because one of their old friends, Lou, has been brought in, presumably for an unsuccessful suicide attempt via carbon monoxide. Lou is an obnoxious, caustic alcoholic, but the two men take pity on him, and embark on a a journey to one of their old haunts to cheer up Lou up. Adam’s teen aged nephew Jacob (Clark Duke Superbad, Kick-Ass) goes along for the ride.
Lou is played by Rob Corddry, who should be enjoying his last few days of anonymity, because he is going to be a household name on Monday morning. He pulls off the tricky role of Lou perfectly, and despite Lou’s massive list of flaws, you end up kind of liking the guy. That takes charisma, and Corddry has plenty to spare.
The men arrive at a Kodiak Valley ski resort that they used to hang out back in the day, and are demoralized to find that it has fallen into disrepair and is basically a dump. They are greeted by a cranky one-armed bellhop (Crispin Glover), and a mysterious groundskeeper (Chevy Chase) keeps popping up in odd places. After they get the hot tub on their back porch repaired, the four men take a soak and proceed to get completely soused. They pass out, and upon waking, they see that things look a little different.
The one-armed bellhop has both his arms, and the resort is populated with hot men and women sporting neon clothing, bang claws, leg warmers and giant brick cell phones. Nagel paintings adorn the walls, Alf is playing on the television, and flyers all over the resort advertise a Winterfest featuring headliners Poison. Then they spy a walkman cassette recorder. The men come to the horrifying conclusion that they have traveled back to 1986.
Although the actors look the same to us, to everyone else they appear as their 1986 version. The men realize that they don’t want to cause a “butterfly effect” and so they must go through the exact same actions that they did in 1986, so as not to change the future. Nick is traumatized, because back in 1986, he was a womanizer, and he has to sleep with large breasted groupies (he was in a band at the time.) This results in gentle sobbing and weeping coming during the dirty deed, and it is hilarious.
This movie is a throwback to a lot of those horrible movies we all snuck into in the eighties-Hot Dog and Ski School come to mind. The men all have stupid names like “Blaine” and “Chaz” and the women all have big hair and big boobs.
However, screenwriters Josh Heald and Sean Anders do an excellent job of taking those eighties influences and crafting a new concept. The movie never feels like a retread, it simply tips its hat to those cheesy flicks. This is a raunchy comedy and a buddy flick, but it has some genuine sweet moments. Liberal and clever use of pop culture references from then and now work exceedingly well, and the movie is lot smarter than you would ever guess.
The stellar cast also includes Lizzy Caplan, Lyndsy Fonseca, and Collette Wolf. I really thought it was genius to cast Crispin Glover as a crazy bellhop, because he is was so pervasive in the eighties. A running gag throughout the film revolves around how/when/where he will lose his arm.
Director Steve Pink was the musical supervisor for High Fidelity, and he served in the same capacity on this film, much to our benefit. The film features Motley Crue, Autograph, Scritti Politti, The Replacements, Talking Heads, Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, INXS, The English Beat, Spandau Ballet, The Cutting Crew, Salt-N-Pepa, and more. Do you need any more convincing?
I honestly don’t know how anyone could not enjoy this movie. I suppose some people will find it offensive, but I think this will be one of the best comedies of the year.