April 27, 2010 in Movie Reviews
When I first heard there’s a new movie called Hot Tub Time Machine, I almost rolled my eyes. Sounded like one of those horrible, straight-to-video, B/C-grade films from the 80s.
However, that was before I glanced past some seemingly favourable reviews and read that John Cusack stars in it. John Cusack! There’s no way he could be in something trashy.
And so, against all preconceptions, I went to watch Hot Tub Time Machine, and actually expecting something good.
The name of the film is pretty self-explanatory, so there’s no need to go too much into the plot. Three 40-something men (Cusack, Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry) and a nephew of one of these men (Clark Duke) somehow find themselves in the titular device and are transported back to 1986.
As with most time travel movies, much of Hot Tub Time Machine focuses on the “what could have been”, and asking the question “if I could live my life again, what would I do differently?” That is the current underlying the film and there’s a bit of poignancy to be found in there, but on the surface it’s all craziness and gross-out laughs, and of course, making fun of the 80s.
A lot of the jokes are very 80s, if that qualifies as a description. Kind of zany and outrageous, sexually charged but extremely homophobic. When the humour hits the spot it can be pretty fun, and it’s quite astounding when you realise how much fashion, technology and attitudes have changed over the last 20 years or so. But there are also plenty of jokes that fell horribly flat, especially when you can tell they were going for some big laughs but just couldn’t channel the right punch line.
John Cusack’s talents are somewhat wasted as Adam, the least comical of the foursome, and Clark Duke (Kick-Ass and Sex Drive) is not fully utilised as his geeky, socially reclusive nephew Jacob. The standouts end up being Rob Corddry (The Heartbreak Kid, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay), who plays Lou, a depressed alcoholic and really the central character of the story, as well as Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make a Porno), who plays Nick, a pussy-whipped former singer. Chevy Chase’s minor role failed badly in my opinion, but Crispin Glover as the hotel bellhop was pretty awesome.
Hot Tub Time Machine is funnier than the title suggests, but it’s very very hit and miss. And there’s just too many misses to make it a consistently enjoyable film.
2.5 stars out of 5!