Hot Tub Time Machine
- Wide Release
- Director: Steve Pink
- Written by: Josh Heald, John Morris, Sean Anders
- Running Time: 100 minutes
- Language: English
- MPAA Rating: R - Restricted
- Cast: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Sebastian Stan, Crispin Glover, Lyndsy Fonseca, Chevy Chase, Lizzy Caplan, Charlie McDermott, Collette Wolfe, Jake Rose, Aliu Oyofo, Brook Bennett, Crystal Lowe, Jessica Paré, Kellee Stewart, Julia Maxwell, Geoff Gustafson, Adam Sabla, Austin Warren, Curtis Santiago, Jocelyn C. Waugh, Jeremy Page, Anthony Dallas, William Zabka, Rob LaBelle, Odessa Rojen, Ryan Guldemond, Jamie Switch, Jacob Blair, Brendan Fletcher, Donald McDonald, Lynda Boyd, Chad Garner, Eddie Ruttle, Chad MacDonald, Blaine Anderson, Athony Pagni, Emmanuella Bezjak, Curtis Dekker, Michael Roberds, Daren A. Herbert, Megan Holmes, Ecstasia Sanders, Peter Wilson, Brent Lister, Heathcliffe Scaddan, Rhys Williams, Ava Leemet, Lars Anderson, Paul Dzenkiw, Dawn Natalia, Marie West, Crystal Tisiga, Keith Roenke, Ian Duffy, Willy Lavendel, Amy Esterle, Viv Leacock
Early on in "Hot Tub Time Machine" John Cusack, as Adam, roots around in his basement for something from his past - an old analog TV that he so casually discarded in favour of a giant HD flat-screen. Sadly, the reality of the present, namely an ugly divorce in which "she" took everything that didn't have a red dot on it (and at least one thing that did, the TV) forces Adam to confront how little he's made of his life. Adam is an insurance salesman estranged from his friends and seemingly anyone who actually gives a shit about him, who now finds himself alone, drinking and watching that old analog in his empty living room. Thankfully he has his computer-geek nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) shacked up in his basement, forever playing violent videogames and reminding him that, yeah, at least he has those wild party-time memories from his youth that he can feel good about - unlike Jacob who barely leaves the house. Adam's best friend from those party days, Nick Webber (Craig Robinson) is in a similar situation. Long ago he forfeited his dreams of becoming a music sensation in favour of a comfy marriage and a secure but monotonous job at a pet salon. So emasculated is Nick that he'd rather hyphenate his last name, than risk angering his wife. Forget about the fact that she's been cheating on him with another man.
Upon learning that their old friend from school, Lou (Rob Corddry) - a recently divorced raging alcoholic, asshole of the tallest order - may or may not have attempted to kill himself... again, they decide their best medicine is to get away, namely a place from their youth where they had so much fun, the Kodiak Valley Ski Resort. The notion of recapturing just a scent, a fleeting touch of those care-free days gone by seems to be a dab of therapy all of these middle-aged guys desperately need, so, without hesitation, they pack up their things and head off into the snowy mountains. Jacob tags along at Adam's insistence, you know, because he wants him to stay out of trouble and all. Upon arriving they realize that their once thriving getaway spot has been reduced to empty shops and dilapidated buildings, a product of our current recession-ravaged times, no doubt. Thankfully they have plenty of alcohol, drugs and a hot tub, to remind them of the good times they once had. It takes some nudging from Lou but soon the group is in full swing, partying away the night like the teenagers they used to be. By accident, some of Lou's illegally-obtained energy soda, Chernobyl, is spilled into the tub's control panel and, well, all hell breaks loose. In short order they are swallowed up, spun around and spit back out... only this time it's not 2010, it's 1986. More specifically, that very Winterfest Weekend in 86 where they all had the time of their lives (and where Jacob may very well have been conceived) - the onus for the trip in the first place. Upon realizing the circumstances of their sudden predicament, it's up to them to dutifully re-trace their past experiences as they remember them for fear that any change could alter their present day. The "butterfly effect", if you will. Not that 'present day' is all that great to begin with but it's all they have and they want to hold onto it. For Jacob, who has yet to be born, it's all the more frightening that everything he, or the rest of his clan, might do, could very well result in him not be conceived and that flickering image in the mirror isn't easing his mind any.
Yeah, it's another of those time travel movies in the vein of "Back to The Future" and "17 Again" only, the folks behind this time travel flick are dealing with a more modern, more hip audience - an audience so hip in fact that the filmmakers themselves have to hip themselves to the quick right off the bat - and quick. The trailer gives it all away; the doofus premise, the utter absurdity of the title and, yeah, that they (the filmmakers) are in on the joke... sorta - as evidenced by Craig Ferguson, with furrowed brow, turning, looking at the camera and acknowledging that their mini-pool out on the deck “must be some sort of hot tub time machine." Yes it is! We know this and we anticipate the ridiculousness of it all with open arms. Summer is here kids, and it's time to have some fun at the movies. "Hot Tub Time Machine" is the first real party movie of 2010 and the critics (well, at least female ones, who have across the board dismissed this film as trash) be damned. This isn't a film for critics and it certainly isn't a film for females, something most females will readily discover as they wade into it. Akin to scanning the cable channels at 3:00 am for the crudest sounding porn titles for rental, "Hot Tub Time Machine" is cut from the same juvenile cloth; in that it's about as nasty, vulgar and politically incorrect as it gets cinematically. From about the first five minutes where a set of shit-covered keys are yanked from the ass of a dog, to the later implication of a same sex blowjob at gunpoint (and the awkward icky aftermath) and filthy-mouthed tirade towards a nine-year old girl over a telephone, this film seems intent on getting more vulgar with each passing minute... and today's modern male, while most likely used to it, probably wouldn't want it any other way... and really it's not too much to ask of a party movie, is it?
The writers here, all three of them, definitely know their way around the 80's pop cinema/music landscape, with a veritable caravan of 80s music and film references thrown about, including riffs on "Sixteen Candles", "Better off Dead", "The Sure Thing", "A Christmas Story", "The Termninator" and "Red Dawn" (so much so, in fact, that a thread was started over on the imdb about it) that as a fan of that time period, you will feel a touch of nostalgia, I'm sure, but not much else. Sadly, many of the jokes aren't as well thought out as they could be and would work just as easily in a more current setting, something that doesn't bode well for a film with such a comedy-ready premise. On the other hand, if you're one that believes shit and vomit gags are timeless, well this one will surely leave you with a grin on your face. I guess I was somewhat disappointed in that they didn't do more to explore their 'back in time' story-line for maximum laughs, especially when there is so much there to work with. The goofy clothes, the big hair and the technology (including phones the size of a large brick) as well as that Cold War paranoia, it's all here but it's in short, unrefined spurts - and mostly during the big reveal in the resort. They could have gone to town but instead, chose not to. I guess I'll have to settle for the few riffs.
Also lessening the overall experience, in my opinion, was the fact that the whole of the film looked like it was shot on a soundstage. That, coupled with the mostly one-dimensional characterizations, gave the film a less than sturdy overall structure - one that relied a little too heavily on scene to scene sketch-type-bits and sight gags to get by. It doesn't flow as well as it should. Not even an appearance by 80s stalwart Chevy Chase, in the Doc Brown role, as a smarter-than-he-should-be pool repairman, offers little, if anything, to keep the film standing upright in a narrative sense. Instead of providing some much needed exposition of the events that had just transpired with regards to time travel, he just leaves the audience scratching their head. On the other hand, an appearance by Crispin Glover, who played Marty McFly's dad in the mother of all 80's time travel movies, "Back to the Future", provides the film with some of its most anticipatory moments -- especially given that, at some point, you will be front and center as his arm is gruesomely cut from his body, one of the film's running gags. While I don't expect everyone to react with the bloodthirsty callousness that Corddry's character does (the only part of the film that really left me with a bad taste in my mouth), the expectation of the act will keep you on the edge of your seat and laughing. Also look for a cameo by William Zabka, Johnny from "The Karate Kid", in a brief but funny cameo.
Rob Corddry (2008's "Harold And Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay") has one of the most uninhibited characters I've seen in a movie in a long time. This guy is absolutely boiling over with angry, hyper-active energy - blowing through each scene like a demon wind. He also seems to revel in being an asshole, so much so that he's probably the least sympathetic character of the lot and the hardest one to get behind in any real sense. Everytime you even kinda like him, he does something or says something that reminds you what a complete and utter asshole he is. Sadly, his last minute revelation that his near death was, in fact, the result of an attempted suicide, does, at least, give us a glimpse into the humanity that lurks within - probably the only time in the film that it occurs, shockingly. Craig Robinson (2008's "Zack And Miri Make A Porno") does a fine job playing a man so whipped that he would rather lie than confront his wife's recent infidelities. The scene where he freaks out on his still nine year old future wife is as hilarious as it is awkward. Clark Duke is the perfect contrast to Corddry's over-the-top lunatic a guy who may or may not be his father - considering his mom is roaming about the resort banging everyone in sight. This thing about Lou being potentially Jacob's pop is a plot point that doesn't really make much sense, and speaks to the laziness of the writers. Sorry but no matter how much alcohol one consimes, 1986 and 2010 will never make 20.
Last but not least, there's John Cusack as Adam. For anyone not in the know, John Cusack is, was, and will always be, one of my favourite Hollywood actors. It's nice to see him being a "guy" for a change as opposed to what he has become in recent years; the bland leading man, appearing in safe movies that appeal to an older female demographic. I'm glad that Cusack (who also acted as a producer on the film) is finally embracing his wild n' crazy guy side again, the thing that endeared him to audiences in the first place. Thankfully, Cusack has enough smarts to know what "guy" he can play and what "guy" he can't play. Sorry but I would never buy Cusack as a party animal, but as a straight man to Rob Codry's party animal - absolutely! One can probably draw a parallel between the character he plays, Adam, and Cusack himself, who, during the press junket for "1408" (my absolute favourite of his movies), lamented about his choice of films and how his career hasn't exactly gone the way he'd imagined. Maybe he had enough of being that bland leading man and decided, fuck it, I think it's time to hop into a tub with a bunch of middle aged guys and a giant bear. Who knows? In one of Cusack's earliest film efforts, "The Sure Thing" Viveca Lindfors' as Professor Taub, spouted an important line to another character, one that Cusack has done well not to forget. "There's not enough of *you* coming through. Loosen up... Have some fun!" It's looks like Cusack has done just that, at least here, briefly. His blossoming love affair with a just-passing-through music reporter (Lizzy Caplan), covering the band Poison, provides the film with some much needed sweetness and yet another nod to another great 80s classic.
It also reminds viewers that the film could have used a tad more of that. On the other hand, the type of folks who will be lining up to see this movie aren't gonna care one way or the other.