Review in a Hurry: The generation known as X is entering middle age, and it only makes sense that their nostalgia manifests in a mash-up of raunchy '80s humor, time-travel and one hit wonders. Hot Tub Machine might be ridiculous, but John Cusack & Co. know that there's still life in those acid-wash jeans.
The Bigger Picture: Sharing too-close-for-comfort pool space in the Hot Tub Time Machine are three old dudes: Cusack, Craig Robinson (The Office), Rob Corddry (The Daily Show) and one younger guy (Superbad's Clark Duke).
The fortysomething buds hung out in high school, but now rarely see each other and find their lives to be pretty lame: Adam (Cusack) just got dumped by his girlfriend, Nick (Robinson) panders to freaky Beverly Hills dog owners, and Lou (Corddry) just tried to carbon monoxide himself in a garage—or maybe he was just too trashed listening to Motley Crüe's "Home Sweet Home" to care?
Adam decides it's time to head back to their favorite ski resort town, Kodiak Valley, but time has not been kind to the lodge either. Luckily, all it takes is a dip in a ridiculously outdated hot tub and some Russian "Chernobly" energy drink—and the men are Zapped! (get it?!) back to 1986. Radical.
Anyone who's a fan of Cusack's own '80s comedies—Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer—doesn't need to read any further. The familiar brand of teen-mischief and raunch is in full effect here, and Hot Tub earns it's R rating with gross out gags and plenty of topless snow bunnies. Gratuitous? Yes, but also 100 percent accurate. Ask any '80s historian.
Many comedies have tried (and failed) to be funny with remember-when gags from the Reagan era, but HTTM succeeds, as the characters dream to rewrite their past, rather than just reveling in it.
Now, Jacob (Duke) might be just along for the ride, but he's a key player, too, fearing for his very existence. See, he's too young to be in '86, and every now and then he'll start to flicker away a la Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future.
But more than the rest of this strong cast, Corddry is the standout. His Lou wants to change up his future self, and his brand of mean-spiritedness somehow—and we're not sure exactly how—gives his every scene a real ferocity, threatening but hilarious.
HTTM is very aware of all it's anachronistic elements, and worked them to full effect, winking and chugging beer at the same time. Cusack seems to be channeling Lloyd Dobler and Lane Meyer and just John Cucask from the '80s. A pep talk he gives to Corddry feels lifted from Say Anything...
And of course, Back To The Future alum Crispin Glover shows up as a one-armed bellhop who's barely aged at all since the '80s. We'll just say that George McFly is still a weird dude and leave it at that.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Like in the movies' HTTM is emulating, villains have never been their strong suit. Sure it's kinda funny that the baddie is like a brunette version of The Karate Kid's blonde d-bag Johnny, but it's not that funny. And having Chevy Chase show up as a Maytag-like repairman has echoes of Fletch, but is disappointingly ho hum.
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