Hot Tub Time Machine

June 24, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

Everyone has seen the raunchy teen comedies (from Superbad to Not Another Teen Movie) and they normally aren’t all that great.  Everyone has seen the loser grown-up (Will Ferrell) who sits around making fart jokes and being a train wreck of a person.  This is a combination of those two films.  What happens when three best friends (and a nephew) go back to the ski resort where the three friends had some of their greatest moments.  Sure, it has a lot of stupid humor in it, but it has a fair amount of heart (however misguided it is).

As I’ve alluded to, three friends, Adam, Nick and Lou, return to Kodiak Mountain (along with Jacob, Adam’s nephew) after Lou almost kills himself.  They are trying to bring Lou out of his funk and they hope that this will end up curing him.  Unfortunately, the resort isn’t quite as they remember it.  The place has fallen apart and no one visits there anymore.  The only slight saving grace is a hot tub which turns into a time machine.  They end up back in 1986, in their old bodies, except for Jacob who is just Jacob.  They realize that everything might change in the future if they change the past, so they start out trying to avoid making any change, no matter how slight. That plan falls apart as none of them are particularly happy with where they are now (with the possible exception of Jacob who is living in Adam’s basement).  They have to figure out how to get back to their future and they end up changing a lot which all works out, surprisingly, for the better.

The performances are all pretty solid.  John Cusack is an actor you really can never go wrong with, and in this role, he does a good job.  He seems to play similar characters fairly often, someone who is down and out in many ways, but he can do so either dramatically or in a comedy like this one.  It is a little raunchier than you’d expect from a film with Cusack in it, but he works really well in the role of Adam.  Craig Robinson plays Nick and he is one of those up and coming comedians that is still new enough not to be boring when he does some of his same mannerisms over and over again.  His humor in this film is less subtle than that of Cusack, but not purely gross out humor.  The gross out humor is provided expertly by Rob Corddry, of Daily Show fame, he has a knack for playing that over the top extremely intense character.  It lends itself to some humor, and while he has a lot of the jokes, they don’t seem as funny as the jokes that Robinson and Cusack have.  Clark Duke plays Jacob, and he does a decent job.  He comes across as very nerdy, but overall isn’t all that funny in the film.  He is more of a character to be poked fun at than to make any of the jokes.  He has a chance or two, but we really don’t get to see how good a comedian he could be.  Lizzy Caplan, Crispin Glover, and Chevy Chase round out the notable cast members.  Caplan plays her typical free spirited type of character and Chevy Chase makes a cameo appearance as the hot tub repair man.  Chase has a couple of decent lines, and Caplan brings some poignancy to some scenes.  But Glover is the one who really puts on a good performance as Phil, the bellhop at the resort.  He sometimes seems like a complete and utter dick, and other times he becomes unbearably sweet.  But he does a good job with him performance.

Visually Steve Pink does little with this film to set it apart from other raunchy comedies.  It has a nice eighties feel to it, but there isn’t anything special about how this film is shot.  What does make this film pop is the eighties sound track pumping in the background.  It matches the film extremely well, and I love 80’s music so hearing Motley Crue blaring behind them is just great.  Josh Heald and Sean Anders do a good idea with the story, reliving part of your life might not be the most original thing, but they kept the jokes coming throughout the whole film and there were really no lulls, which is important for this type of comedy.

This is a comedy that I would recommend checking out.  Sure, it is somewhat raunchy and perverse at some points, but overall the combination of the humor and the bit of heart that it shows works pretty well.  It mainly is worth watching for Craig Robinson and John Cusack who really steal the show, and if the subtler humor isn’t your thing, Coddry provides a whole lot of physical and raunchy humor.

Entertainment Grade: B+

Critical Grade: C+

Overall Grade: B


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