Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
|Featuring||John Cusack (Adam), Clark Duke (Jacob), Craig Robinson (Nick), Rob Corddry (Lou), Sebastian Stan (Blaine), Lyndsy Fonseca (Jennie), Crispin Glover (Phil), Chevy Chase (Repair Man), Charlie McDermott (Chaz), Lizzy Caplan (April), Collette Wolfe (Kelly), Aliu Oyofo (Nick at 17), Jake Rose (Adam at 17), Brook Bennett (Lou @ 17), Crystal Lowe (Zoe), Jessica Paré (Tara), Kellee Stewart (Courtney), Julia Maxwell (Lucy), Geoff Gustafson (Dr. Jeff), See all »|
Screenplay: Sean Anders, Josh Heald, John Morris
|Producer||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), New Crime Productions, United Artists, John Albanis, John Cusack, Grace Loh, Matt Moore, John Morris, Michael Nelson|
Sequel: “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” (2015)
Remember the 1980’s: the fashions, the fads, the music? If so, you’d know that John Cusack was in about every famous teenage based movie (“Sixteen Candles,” “Better off Dead,” “Say Anything”), and if he wasn’t it probably was one of the “Back to the Future” films. Well, if you take the hackneyed science of those Michael J. Fox classics, throw in Cusack, and sprinkle in a healthy amount of “The Hangover,” you’ve got yourself the 1980’s throwback “Hot Tub Time Machine.” It’s a sometimes amusing, but always offensive, comedy romp about, you guessed it, a hot tub that transports you through time.
The story centers around three friends who have grown apart as they’ve gotten older. In fact, they hardly ever see each other. One’s an insurance agent (John Cusack), one a dog trainer and groomer (Craig Robinson), and the other a down on his luck bum (Rob Corddry). The three of them, along with one of their nephews, take a trip up to a ski lodge they used to frequent when they were younger. It’s not nearly the attraction it once was, but they notice in their room a (gasp!) hot tub. After partying in it, they wake up hung over in the year 1986. From there it plays out very similar to “Back to the Future,” as they realize anything they change in the past will change their future. Of course, this is nothing more than a crazy set up for the sex, drugs, and 80’s glam rock and roll to come.
As ridiculous as the plot is, the film has its moments. The key is that the filmmakers don’t take themselves too seriously, and they capitalize on the time period jokes. At one point, a main character says an outrageous line of dialogue, and then looks directly into the camera, as if to say, “hopefully you know by now how ridiculous this really is.”
There are a lot of 80’s jokes, and they’re made even better by some classic 80’s casting. Crispin Glover, an actor who most probably wouldn’t recognize nowadays, but was in the original “Back to the Future” film, is in “Hot Tub Time Machine,” as kind of a running joke. Chevy Chase, also, stops by as the hot tub repair man, and while his dialogue falls flat, he’s really there more as an homage to the 80’s “Vacation” films. Then, of course, there’s Cusack, and if you were a fan of his earlier stuff, you’ll get a kick out of him dealing with more 80’s shenanigans.
While all that’s good and well, it doesn’t nearly make up for the constant language and graphic sexual content that one has to endure in “Hot Tub Time Machine.” As I mentioned earlier, the film borrows heavily from “The Hangover” in its sexual tone and bathroom gags. I won’t go into details, but it’s safe to say that language is prevalent, and so are the sexual situations and nudity.
Unlike “The Hangover,” which was virtually void of redemption, there is a small (and I mean small) lesson about the importance of family and friendship. That small lesson is overwhelmed by a film that earns its ‘R’ rating within its first ten minutes. It’s a preposterous film that delivers some laughs, but does so amidst a sea of content issues. For most of you, there will probably be better ways to remember the 80’s than a trip in the “Hot Tub Time Machine.”
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.