Directed by: Steve Pink
Stars: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke
Opens in the UK: May 7, 2010
If you took The Hangover, Back to the Future, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and The Wedding Singer and threw them into a blender, the end result might look a little something like Hot Tub Time Machine, a raunchy, male bonding, time travel comedy that gets a lot of mileage out of an appealing cast. In Hot Tub Time Machine, three life long pals (played by John Cusack, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson) decide to re-connect with their past by heading out to their old stomping grounds. They take Cusack’s considerably younger nephew (played by Clark Duke) along for the ride, and after checking into their hotel, things quickly go awry when a night of partying and a soak in a mysterious hot tub prove to be a bad combination.
Upon awakening the next morning, our confused leads discover that they’ve been magically transported back to a much simpler time; 1986! Hot Tub Time Machine doesn’t aspire for cinematic greatness. It simply sets out to make the audience laugh, and to its credit, it has several laugh out loud moments to speak of. Perhaps what disappointed me most is that this film could have been so much more. With the involvement of Grosse Pointe Blank screenwriter Steve Pink and actor John Cusack (a veteran of teen 80’s cult classics like Better Off Dead), I expected Hot Tub Time Machine to be far more clever. Still, guys like Cusack, Robinson, and most notably Robert Corddry (so good as the abrasive a-hole of the bunch) bring the funny. Hot Tub Time Machine also benefits from a few noteworthy cameos which I refuse to spoil in this review. I would like to mention how positively unfunny Chevy Chase is here. As a hot tub repair man, Chase just sort of stands around expecting us to laugh at him simply because he’s Chevy Chase. Sorry buddy, it’ll take a little bit more than that. Even Christopher Walken brought his glorious, eccentric energy to the table in an equally underwritten part in the misbegotten Adam Sandler vehicle Click.
Hot Tub Time Machine has many of the obvious 80’s references you’ll be expecting (i.e. Michael Jackson, leg warmers, hair bands, etc,) but it also offers up a few winks that are rather unexpected (the Red Dawn bit is pretty damn funny). And as silly as it is, I enjoyed some of the alternate reality stuff that transpires as a result of our fearless leads messing with certain elements in the past. Star Trek and Back to the Future this ain’t, but I still got a kick out of it. Hot Tub Time Machine is an R rated comedy filled with excessive language, naughty sex gags, and no shortage of dick and fart jokes. It isn’t on par with Apatow’s more sophisticated R rated comedies nor is at as funny as the irreverent male bonding opus Role Models, but I did like this more than the labored She’s Out of My League. I certainly expected a bit more from the slightly sloppy Hot Tub Time Machine, but the film offers up enough big laughs to warrant a recommendation. — Adam Mast, May 2010.