Granted, movies like Hot Tub Time Machine, with an intentionally kitschy premise, can either be entertainingly absurd (Killer Klowns From Outer Space) or absurdly bad (Snakes on a Plane). Hot Tub Time Machine has two main draws, the ’80s and the actors. If it relies too heavily on “remember when” humor, it’ll devolve into a glorified VH1 show, and if the characters aren’t funny or relatable, it’ll devolve into The Hangover without Zach Galifianakis. So where does the ridiculously titled Hot Tub Time Machine fit in?
To my amazement, the film neither belly flops nor fully succeeds. Old friends Adam, Nick and Lou, along with Adam’s nephew Jacob, plan a getaway from their crummy lives to Kodiak Valley ski resort where, in 1986, they had the best weekend of their lives. Somehow (hot tub, naturally) they get transported back to that very time where they must relive their amazing weekend. Though this sounds like a free ticket to cure their mid-life blues, amidst the Terminator and Butterfly Effect references, the film reflects on what it means to grow up and grow apart. What? Hot Tub Time Machine just got real?
Not to worry, there’s still plenty of toilet humor, Corddry’s Lou being the crassest of all. Nick (Robinson) puts it best, saying, “he’s that friend that’s the asshole, but he’s our asshole.” Corddry’s performance really toes the line between super-annoying and ballsy funny. It’s pretty much a reprisal of his role from What Happens in Vegas, but funny.
Thankfully, the characters save the film from falling victim to its own premise. Though John Cusack’s mopey mug looks more and more like a guy wearing a John/Joan Cusack Halloween mask, and his “Classic Cusack” morose businessman type is the most lackluster of the bunch, the rest of the cast picks up the slack. Crispin Glover is back from the future as a one-armed bellhop in one of the film’s best running gags. And of course, the other star of the film: the ’80s. A lot of the jokes follow the “I can’t believe we did blank in the ’80s” format, which works maybe half the time, but isn’t too heavily relied on. Maybe they’ll make a sequel in 24 years where the gang goes back to 2010, and everything from our clothes to our music to our technology will look equally as dated. Just foolin’; everything looks so much better now.