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Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 March 2010

ImageEveryone has that period in their lives where they feel unstoppable, unbeatable, on top of the world. Such times don't last forever, and as we make our inevitable trudge towards middle age, it can often seem like we've been left behind by life. I'm sure every one of us has looked back and questioned the decisions that led us to where we are today. If we could change them, not knowing what the effects might be, would we?

Perhaps we would if were living the life of Nick (Craig Robinson). Once a promising singer, Nick now spends his days clearing out the intestinal tracks of pocket dogs. He also has two down on their luck friends, Adam (John Cusack), and Lou (Rob Cordry). After Lou almost kills himself in his garage while listening to Motley Crue, the group, along with Adam's nephew (Clark Duke), make a trek out to their old ski lodge stomping grounds in an attempt to recapture their glory days. Their hopes are quickly dashed when they discover that the place is a run down shell of its former self, with nothing of note except a one-armed bellhop (Crispin Glover). However, after spending a drunken night in their luxurious hot tub, the gang finds themselves whisked back into the heart of the 80's, just at the time where each member of the group (except Adam's nephew, of course) could change their fate by changing a few pivotal decisions.

Hot Tub Time Machine Slide 1

Hot Tub Time Machine is a great idea for a movie. It's got a perfect title for a raunchy comedy, and its release was heralded by an excellent trailer. The final product, however, does not live up to the great promise. First, the good: If you like 80's comedies, this movie does its very best to throw you right back into the fun of those wild and crazy romps. The movie is very much R-rated, and while it could have done with a smidge more nudity, it certainly doesn't hold back on the raunch. It's also a smorgasbord of 80's references, from the Red Dawn obsessed ski security to the many Cusack references. And heck, you've even got comedy staple Chevy Chase as an enigmatic repairman.

Craig Robinson and Rob Cordry carry the day, with the former getting in some hilarious situations (as well as providing the film with its title, complete with look to camera), and the latter reveling in his character's unstoppable and insatiable need for sex. The pair give the film its most memorable moments, and Cordry is really fearless in how slimy and generally unlikeable he allows his character to get. Crispin Glover (another 80's staple) also provides a truly hilarious running gag that pays off beautifully.

Hot Tub Time Machine Slide 2

Sadly, Hot Tub Time Machine does not live up to its promise or premise. Despite the plethora of 80's culture on display, the film only uses that as a backdrop. The time period is utterly incidental, and only a few jokes even revolve around the fact that the group has travelled back in time. Furthermore, an 80's teen comedy icon, John Cusack, is utterly wasted on a conventional romantic comedy subplot. He spends most of the time sulking. If someone told me his performance was simply cut together from unused takes from his other movies, I'd almost believe it. That's how little effort he puts into the project. Chevy Chase fares even worse, given nothing to do and clearly flailing for something that might be funny, if only the writers had bothered to write it in.

Clark Duke gets stuck in the straight man role, forced to simply watch and react while Craig Robinson and Rob Cordry have their fun. Director Steve Pink, whose 2006 college reject comedy Accepted was actually fairly underrated, doesn't seem to know how to elevate the material and make the most of what he has in front of him. I'm not savant, but I think I could get more out of a cast that includes John Cusack and Chevy Chase.

Hot Tub Time Machine Slide 3

The film takes a short and cutesy uptick as it reaches its conclusion, giving the usual happy ending a decidedly outrageous twist. As it is, it's not bad, but I really can't help thinking that a film with the title Hot Tub Time Machine really could and should have been so much better.

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