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Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) *1/2

March 26, 2010



Written by: Josh Heald, Sean Anders and John Morris

Produced by: John Cusack, Grace Loh, Matt Moore and John Morris

Directed by: Steve Pink

Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language

U.S. Release Date: March 26, 2010

Over the last 15 years, the Hollywood machine has been pumping out “frat boy comedies” that present endless scenarios to make lewd jokes and to create quotes that will be uttered over and over by drunken college kids until… the next similar film comes out.  Make no mistake, this type of film is all what “Hot Tub Time Machine” strives to be, and nothing more.  When I first heard of “Hot Tub Time Machine” on the news wires, I thought the title preposterous.  When I saw the teaser trailer I thought, “I’m pleasantly surprised… maybe this has some promise after all.”  Then I saw the unfortunate full trailer and received a barrage of spoilers that I hoped weren’t as significant as I suspected.  How did the full experience fare?  Is the drunken man-journey back to the 80s worth taking?

 Four friends, Adam (John Cusack), Jacob (Clark Duke), Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry), are all bored in their daily lives.  They resort to hanging out together everyday and talking about how lame they all are.  One day, the guys have the very straight idea of getting hammered and hopping into a hot tub together.  What they didn’t foresee in this night of manly adventure was that this magical (look directly into the camera) hot tub time machine would transport them back in time to the 80s, the heyday of their lives.  This plot device serves as a prime avenue for an overabundance of homosexual and phallic jokes, as the foursome gets wild and crazy at a ski resort back in time.  Let the hilarity ensue.

My problem was “Hot Tub Time Machine” is not with the film achieving what it aims to be, which is a less-than-original “frat boy comedy”.  Rather, my qualm is that is does not present any originality at all.  At least all of the lowbrow Will Ferrell comedies are set in unusual places or focus on atypical characters (i.e. “Talladega Nights” or “Zoolander”).  “Hot Tub Time Machine” just brings another all-dude comedy with seriously homosexual undertones (in some cases, they’re very much overtones).

I understand that Steve Pink directed this film, and that is probably the sole reason that John Cusack was cast, but I still do not like the decision.  Cusack’s deep Hollywood connections continue to place him in leading roles that just don’t seem to fit.  “1408”, “2012” and “Hot Tub Time Machine” are all typical Hollywood films that just don’t mix with Cusack’s independent vibe.  Pink and Cusack teaming up for another off-center comedy, such as “High Fidelity” or “Grosse Pointe Blank”, definitely gets my interest up.  However, as long as they’re sticking to films just for the money, I’m staying away.

Side note: Craig Robinson, of “The Office” and “Pineapple Express” fame, is one of my favorite new comedy acts in Hollywood, and I’ll watch him in anything.

Overall, is the mancation back to the 80s worth the trip?  Not so much.  If you must see this film, I would definitely recommend renting it.  Until then, feed your mind with better Steve Pink & John Cusack co-op projects like “Grosse Pointe Blank” or “High Fidelity”.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. liz permalink
    March 26, 2010 11:26 am

    i am glad i read this, i assumed as much. nice to have confirmation. thanks.
    btw, not a john cusack fan at all….however joan is a phenom!

  2. David J. Fowlie permalink*
    March 26, 2010 12:29 pm

    I really wanted this to have some kinda John Hughes heart to it all, but alas….it wasn’t meant to be. I enjoy the work of all four of the leads but I guess there wasn’t enough for them to do here. How was Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover, though?

  3. windi permalink
    March 27, 2010 9:30 am

    john can do so much better. I’m always disappointed when he does stuff like this. And 2012, which was awful as well….

    I wasn’t planning on watching this, so this is confirmation on my part not to even be tempted to rent it! LOL

    I did love Gross Pointe Blank….hard to believe that’s the same director! 🙁

  4. april t permalink
    March 28, 2010 12:09 pm

    i’m glad to read this review also. huge cusack hound so i was tempted…. i wondered why/how he
    was cast and now i know.

    but now i’ll wait and add it to the netflix que

  5. November 16, 2010 11:04 pm

    hot tubs with ceramic heaters are the best and they are safer to use too because the heating element is fully enclosed ~’~

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