When I first heard about Hot Tub Time Machine I thought it was a joke. Seriously, how could you not? Was I to seriously believe that a studio would make a movie with that ridiculous title? Who in their right mind would greenlight such a stupid-sounding film? Then I remembered Snakes on a Plane; so what if it was originally just a working title, it still came out, did it not? After these initial “logical” thoughts came through my my mind, I began to think about the possibilities. In the right hands this could be a beautiful, beautiful film. That’s right, I said beautiful.
The trailers came out and I began to get a little excited as they looked utterly ridiculous. There are not many people who could get the likes of John Cusack and Craig Robinson together in the same film, not to mention Rob Corddry and Chevy Chase! Now, if that is not enough, do not forget Crispin Glover. I know I did a double take when I saw that he was in this.
The big question was whether or not this was going to have any sort of story. I went in expecting something along the lines of Snakes on a Plane while hoping for something more like The Hangover. I walked out more than satisfied to have found it was closer to The Hangover, if The Hangover had gotten together with Back to the Future with a little Wayne’s World/Bill & Ted on the side. Seriously, the movie is not serious at all, yet still has a heart at its core and that is what elevates it beyond the goofy, stupid, raunchy comedy upon which it is built.
Hot Tub Time Machine focuses on a trio of old high school friends who have gone their separate ways as they have gotten older, with varying degrees of success. You have Adam (John Cusack) an insurance salesman whose girlfriend has moved out, left alone with his nephew who lives in the basement, Jacob (Clark Duke). Nick Webber (Craig Robinson) is a dog groomer convinced his wife is cheating on him. Finally there is Lou (Rob Corddry) who has not left his partying ways behind him, and it is his accident that kicks off this quartet’s adventure.
Lou makes the mistake of revving his car in a closed garage during a rather active round of air drumming and becomes a victim of the carbon monoxide poisoning. This brings the friend back together, and believing their friend may be suicidal, they decide to take a weekend trip to a ski getaway they went to back in their heyday of the late 80′s.
They find the town is now a ghost town, the resort a rundown mess, and their room a shadow of its former self. They decide to make the best of it and party down in the hot tub. The drinking gets a little out of hand and before they realize anything has happened the bubbling waters have transported them back to 1986.
Once there, and they realize what happened, they fall into the Back to the Future concept of time travel, where they need to retrace their steps and ensure what is supposed to happen actually happens. This involves sex, drugs, fights, and drugs. Yes, drugs get mentioned twice.
Frankly, there is not much to the plot. The story is thin at best, with the main goal to poke fun at their past selves and goof on 80′s references. However, the combination of the screenplay by Josh Heald, Sean Anders, and John Morris, and the comedic talents of the cast create that perfect storm that could not have been better if they tried. The writers know their 80′s films and get in a ton of lines and references to the past, while the cast is pitch perfect in their comic timing and chemistry.
It is a fine balance; trying to achieve it is like trying to hit a moving target. This is a project that could have just as easily gone flying off the rails. The movie is over the top, wild, and goofy, yet the characters bring it all home and I actually found myself caring about them. Will they decide to change the future? Will they rediscover why they were friends in the first place? How many different ways can they swear? Will they be able to get back home?
Bottomline. Sit back and laugh. Don’t overthink this movie. I am sure we all know that if you try to bring in any logic to a time travel story you will get a nasty headache. The time travel is just a tool to get the comedy flowing, and it works beautifully. I cannot believe this will be remembered by the masses, but I am sure many will get a lot of enjoyment from it for years to come.