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Film Review: "Hot Tub Time Machine"
March 24, 2010
by: Jared Counts
(MGM. 1 hour, 40 minutes. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language. Directed by Steve Pink.) John Cusack (Adam), Clark Duke (Jacob), Craig Robinson (Nick), Rob Corddry (Lou), Crispin Glover (Phil), Chevy Chase (Repair Man). Music by Christophe Beck.
After their beleaguered and boozy friend Lou (Corddry) almost kills himself, failed musician Nick (Robinson), recently dumped Adam (Cusack) and his shut-in nephew Jacob (Duke) take a trip to an old run-down ski lodge. While drinking in a magical hot tub, the four are transported to 1986, and must escape the past without wrecking their future. A sporadically funny but largely uneven gross-out comedy.
Hot Tub Time Machine takes a pretty ridiculous premise and does a middling job with it. It's much funnier than I anticipated, but my expectations weren't great to start and the hit-to-miss ratio for jokes is pretty low. The version of the 80's the group visits is hyper-distilled, sporting more cliches per frame than previously thought possible. I was young then, but I certainly don't remember seeing that many people with Jheri curls, leg warmers and "Where's the Beef?" t-shirts all over the place. The film never dwells on the repercussions of the time travelling (or the big plot holes that it creates), which is probably good given how loose they play it. The cast is solid enough, with Robinson the most comfortable of the group, but I'm still wondering why John Cusack is in this movie. I know he's good at comedic roles, but he and helmer Steve Pink have made far superior films (Grosse Pointe Blank, for one). Sounds like someone needs a new agent. I know that R-rated comedies are making a comeback, but I would wait for the rental on this one.