Brandon's Review: Hot Tub Time Machine is Totally Tubular
by Brandon Lee Tenney
March 25, 2010
Hot Tub. Time. Machine. The title alone is enough to evoke a chuckle. It's seriously great. What's better is that the film that follows that distinctively '80s, bitchin' title sequence is able to evoke a whole lot more than a chuckle. This is a film to be seen with a group of friends who've hopefully seen their fair share of '80s movies, know their '80s fashion, and are familiar with spacial and temporal travel via jacuzzi wormholes. (That last one is less important. But relevant. And hilarious.)
Comedy is the toughest genre for me to review. Rather, I find it most difficult to recommend comedies to others if I don't know you well. It's much easier to be confident in one's recommendation of a drama or thriller; a well acted, emotional story, crisp writing, or exciting action are fairly universally recognizable. If something is exciting, it's generally exciting to just about everyone. Our recognition of excitement is biologically ingrained. Comedy, though, is everything but universally agreed upon. And a sense of humor is certainly not something everyone has.
So, with that in mind, the most substantial factor in any review of a comedy should be if it makes you laugh. Hot Tub Time Machine made me laugh. A lot. The film follows three estranged friends during all of their respective mid-life crises. That is, until they decide to recreate one of the best weekends of their life: a weekend in 1986 at a ski resort where they unknowingly experienced some of the most defining moments of their lives. But when their jacuzzi sends them through the time-space continuum back to 1986, they're given the unique choice of retaining their timelines just as they happened or changing their lives forever.
The threesome is comprised of Adam (John Cusack), Lou (Rob Corddry), and Nick (Craig Robinson). While all three play their parts well, their characters are not exactly the deepest. They're archetypes. And at a certain point, it's clear where they're all going to end up. But it's a testament to Cusack, Corddry, and Robinson that they're able to play the characters with such charm. Cusack is especially fantastic. (Which is refreshing after last seeing him in 2012.) And with the very funny supporting cast of Clark Duke (who is much more than a Jonah Hill knockoff), Lizzy Caplan, Crispin Glover, and Chevy Chase, the LPM -- laughs per minute -- is off the charts.
Overall, the film is ridiculous. But, if you've read the title, you already know that. And once you accept that, Hot Tub Time Machine is, above all, very funny. It's a cathartic depiction of wish fulfillment, too. Everything you've ever joked about regarding time travel over beers -- and possibly… other depressants -- is explored in this film. With awesome hilarity. With the knowledge of the future, the wisdom of age, but the bodies of their 1986 selves, Adam, Lou, and Nick basically play a game of Would You Rather while traversing the themes of Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder"… only while wasted and utterly selfish.
There's nothing like revisionist history, especially when it's you who gets to do the revising. One thing I wouldn't change? Seeing this film. Though I'm glad I don't remember the '80s. People sure did love neon.
Brandon's Rating: 8 out of 10