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Movie Review - 'Hot Tub Time Machine'

Hot Tub Time Machine

Starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke
Directed by Steve Pink
Rated R

timemachineposter.jpg The phrase "you can't judge a book by its cover" is nonsense. You may judge anything you like, especially if you're American. It's what we do. Besides, there are cases where cover judgmentality serves you pretty well: Krispy Kreme doughnuts probably aren't healthy for you; even if Secret is strong enough for a man...guys, would you use it?

Another such example is Hot Tub Time Machine. The title tells you so much but reveals so very little. Five little syllables, and you pretty much have a handle on what's happening.

You know it's a hot tub that has the power to send someone back or forward in (or maybe through) time. Now, you will likely either reject that idea completely or fall to your knees and rejoice that someone finally had the common sense and decency to combine the tried and true time travel movie premise and a frickin' hot tub. And no matter which one of those camps you fall into, you'd be absolutely right.

If, in your opinion, a movie with a title so stupid only opens the doors to a movie that's even more asinine, there's very little evidence to suggest you missed the mark. Conversely, if you think this is a great idea for a ridiculous comedy, is. And all you had to do is judge the book by its cover.

Three longtime friends figuratively go back in time to the remote ski lodge where they spent some of the best weekends of their lives. Why? Because they've just spent one of the worst weekends of their lives. Adam (John Cusack) came home to an empty house. Well, almost empty - his nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) had been bunkered in Adam's basement for who knows how long playing video games. He was there, in fact, when Adam's girlfriend took all her stuff out of the house. "Was that what all the shuffling was," Jacob asks, barely looking up from his laptop.

Nick (Craig Robinson) was once a promising musician, but now he works at a pet grooming store called, embarrassingly, 'Sup Dawg. But that's better than Lou (Rob Corddry), who drove home drunk and forgot to turn off his ignition after he closed his garage door and starting singing along to Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home." Next thing he knows, Lou wakes up in a hospital bed with Adam and Nick listing the many reasons Lou actually has to try to kill himself.

To lift Lou's spirits, they all decide to return to the point where they were their coolest, which takes on new meaning after a drunken hot tub party. Yep, they've been transported back to Winterfest '86, only because they actually attended the event the first time around, Adam, Nick, and Lou are their past selves, younger, thinner, worse hair. Jacob had accompanied them on the trip to the ski lodge, so he's back in 1986, too, even though he wasn't born yet, so he's kind of the shepherd of the group, trying to keep everyone on point so they can all return to the present safely.

Incorporating elements of The Hangover and Back to the Future, including Crispin Glover, Hot Tub Time Machine isn't nearly as good as either one of those films. Those are high pinnacles to aim for, but that would imply that Time Machine means to do that. On screen, it's just a dumb comedy filling its basket with familiar bits o' genre that's going for big, stupid laughs. It gets them almost every time.

The friends each have their own obstacles to overcome in 1986, and those hurdles match up pretty well with the actors who play them. That's especially true for John Cusack. Around this time in reality, Cusack firmly established his name as Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything, and Adam is very much the reluctant romantic lead. He writes break-up poetry, he puts himself all on the line for an unrequited love. In a way, we're going back in time with him.

Craig Robinson should have more to do, but that's almost always true. Somebody someday will finally give him a role that we'll remember for a long time; it's a shame that hasn't happened yet. The film's biggest jokes are saved for Rob Corddry, the former Daily Show correspondent. It's hard to know if he's trying too hard or it that's just the character, but Lou definitely can test your sanity. He does have some hellaciously funny stuff going on, though.

It's pretty disposable, on the whole, in a way The Hangover certainly wasn't. But that's OK, too. Frankly, we should be happy it turned out as well as it did. I mean, just look at the title.

Reader Comments (12)

I think this is going to be another cult classic that lives forever like "The Big Lebowski". I will be going with high expectations actually because i am a big John Cusack fan and it looks like he is going back to his old self from his early movies like "Better Off Dead". Can't Wait

Friday, March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHonz Brix

I'd like to go on record and point out that I've never seen Colin Boyd and John Cusack in the same place at the same time. Just sayin'....

Looking forward to this one but may end up waiting for video.

Friday, March 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermdamien13

I'll gladly pay the $10 if I can be assured Chevy Chase's character dies at the end!

Friday, March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterF Peter Travers

No, Chevy Chase is the mystic janitor who may or may not know the secrets of the time machine. Was nice watching him not TRY to be funny though.

Friday, March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAsur

I hear they're converting this to 3D...kidding. I'm looking forward to this one.

Friday, March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

I will probably see this this weekend. I am holding out hope that Cusack utters the line "Enough is enough! I have had it with this motherfuckin hot tub that's a motherfuckin time machine!"

Friday, March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMRPigg

I hate to burst your bubble, but at the same time, kudos for one of the great bits of fan fiction ever. That's an incredible line of dialogue.

Friday, March 26, 2010 | Registered CommenterGet The Big Picture

Looks like a very promising rental. Love the red-band trailer with the tits.

Friday, March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Gonna pass on this one.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

It's funny worth the matinee price I like the fact that they alter the Denver Cleveland AFC Championship game where Cleveland WINS!!!!!!! I don't know what was funnier that or the "Game" that was played on the tv, totally mismatched loved the movie what could you do for a sequel

Sunday, April 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDon Draper

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