___________________________ Director: Steve Pink
Running Time: 100 Mins. Release Date: March 26, 2010
New Crime Productions, United Artists and Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer (MGM).
Written By: Josh Heald, Sean Anders & John Morris.
|“Hey guys…is there some kind of retro thing going on this weekend?” – Jacob (Clark Duke)
Even the least engaged movie fan has to cock an eyebrow at a film entitled “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Bringing to mind the massive efforts to promote “Snakes On A Plane” a couple of years back, “…Time Machine” arrives amidst a heavy word-of-mouth marketing campaign. Months of free screenings, along with heavy promotion through Twitter, Facebook, and various other internet destinations have made this an eagerly anticipated and much hyped film.Does it live up to the hype? Sure. Does it realize its potential? Not even close.
Set in present day, “Hot Tub Time Machine” features three friends (John Cusack, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson) who have grown apart and live uninspired and mundane lives. Cusack’s Adam is single again with his nephew, Jacob (Clark Duke), living in his basement. Robinson’s Nick is an unhappily married man who works at a vet clinic, dreams of a music career long since lost and is embarrassed to have hyphenated his last name with his wife. Rob Corddry stars as Lou, a loner whose life consists of shunning responsible behavior and getting his drug and drink on with anyone and everyone he encounters. When Lou ends up hospitalized following a misguided and impromptu Motley Crue singalong is his garage, the guys reconvene and agree to rekindle their friendship by traveling to the famed Kodiak Falls Ski Resort. Lou, Nick, Adam, and Jacob all hop in the car and set out to get away from their problems and recharge their proverbial batteries.
Naturally if you are at all familiar with the storyline, things go awry when the dilapidated hot tub outside their hotel room begins to light up and whirlpool to life. Everyone jumps in and for a moment, life is grand until something spills on the console of the hot tub and…well, the film does have “Time Machine” in the title for a reason.
Transported back to 1986, the guys soon decide that to return to present day, Lou, Nick, and Adam must recreate the events of this particular night – a night full of debauchery of course – and things will be right in the world when they return. To say things fail to go smoothly would be, shall we say, obvious?
“Hot Tub Time Machine” to its credit never sets out to be anything other than a throwback to the 1980 teen-sex comedies that at one time could have lined a video store wall. We have lots of vulgar humor, nudity, sex, drugs, alcohol-induced insanity, and maybe most appealing to me, mid-1980’s hair metal fueling all the film’s fires. This is go-for-broke humor and when it works, the film is laugh-out-loud hilarious. When it misses, the time machine clicks and buzzes to a stop.
Set in 1986, the film does have a handful of retro moments that work, but they seem to arrive in bunches and would have been more engaging had they been spread throughout the entire film. Suffice to say, there is a lot of wasted opportunity here. Disappointingly, instead of looking at the smart and irreverent potential of the film’s premise, “Hot Tub Time Machine” fits a little too comfortably into the misogynistic overtones of the 1980’s teen sex comedies it seems to hold so dear. In 2010, those moments just do not work, if they ever worked at all. Then again, some of those awkward moments elicited hearty chuckles from many in attendance at my screening, so perhaps I missed the point.
With the extraordinary success of “The Hangover”, raunchy R-rated comedies are in the pipeline from virtually all the major studios. The question at hand is whether it really even matters what critics/bloggers/reviewers say about a film like this? It probably doesn’t and that does not bother me in the least. In all reality, “Hot Tub Time Machine” is far from the funniest comedy in years and it is far from being anything other than 90-100 minutes of escapist humor. This barely holds a candle to the great comedic efforts of recent years, including “The Hangover”, so as with anything…don’t believe the hype.
Gladly, I can say that the time may have come for Rob Corddry’s closeup. His crazed and lunatic performance as Lou pays the film’s biggest dividends. Corddry is an underestimated comedic talent who previously worked as a correspondent on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and had a cup of coffee in 2007 with a Fox television sitcom, “The Winner”. Corddry gives a performance on par with some of the most hilarious and fearless comedic performances of recent memory.
Ultimately, there is only one question. Will the movie make me laugh? Sure it will. But you have to have a stomach for the humor it feeds you. The crude and vulgar comes quick, frequent, and easy. Although, I don’t seem to recall these types of films being remembered all that fondly when people look back on the 1980’s in conversation or on “I Love The 80’s” marathons on VH-1. Then again, as I say that, I acknowledge that I am probably overthinking this all a bit too much.
Taken for what it is, you could do a whole lot worse than “Hot Tub Time Machine” and the film does bring a lot of funny to the party. I just wish the filmmakers believed in their idea a little bit more because the potential for something truly memorable was apparently sucked down the drain.