Hot Tub Time Machine isn’t the next Hangover, but it’s filled with raunchy laughs, irreverent humor and enough 80’s paraphernalia to make VH-1 jealous.
Screen Rant’s Paul Young reviews Hot Tub Time Machine
If you have watched any of the red band trailers for Hot Tub Time Machine, then you fully know what to expect from the film – cussing, raunchy jokes, hot women, nudity and plenty of 80’s references. Director Steve Pink makes no apologies for the way his film turned out. He wanted to fully venture into the world of the rated “R” comedy and that’s just what he did.
Pink has left his PG-13 days well behind him, and manages to keep the sometimes-muddled Josh Heald and Sean Anders ( She’s Out of My League, Sex Drive) script on track. What Hot Tub Time Machine lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in laughs. I’ll admit it; I laughed from the time the film started all the way to when the credits rolled, so on that level the film works. On the other hand, there are some very glaring plot holes in the story and some of the sub-plots aren’t really necessary at all and end up being distracting.
The film starts with Nick (Craig Robinson) working as a dog groomer at Sup Dawg, and it’s clear right away that this is not what he had envisioned for his life. The same goes for Adam (John Cusack), whose girlfriend just left him, and Lou (Rob Corddry), who is an aging drunk trying to over-compensate for his screwed up life by driving a Trans-Am and listening to 80s hair band rock ’n roll. Then there is Jacob (Clark Duke), Adam’s sister’s son (read: nephew), who does nothing all day but live in Adam’s basement, chat on the internet and play video games. Think Kip from Napoleon Dynamite but without the mustache.
After an accidental suicide attempt by Lou, the guys decide to take him away for the weekend to try and make his (and their) life not suck so much by going to their old skiing haunt up in the mountains. One problem: the town has all but closed down. Nobody young, fun and beautiful visits there anymore. The hotel they are staying is virtually empty, save for a cranky one-armed bellhop named Phil (Crispin Glover). It’s clear that this is NOT going to be the trip they were hoping for – that is, until they all decide to hang out “Wild Hogs Style” in the hot tub together.
After a night of hot tub boozing, the guys wake up in 1986, smack dab in the middle of Winterfest ’86, where the women ski in bikini tops, big furry boots and the headlining band is Poison. They eventually catch on to what has happened to them and then it’s an all-out run to try and get back to present day.
The extremely attractive Lyndsy Fonseca plays Adam’s girlfriend, Jennie, while Lizzy Caplan plays Adam’s other love interest, a magazine writer that follows the band Poison around on their exploits across the country. This love triangle is one of the sub-plots that really didn’t need to be in the film; I never found myself really caring whether Adam ended up with either girl. Take that whole sub-plot out of the film and you wouldn’t miss it at all.
Corddry is on point with his wild man attitude and Robinson is great as the married man who thinks his 9-year-old wife is cheating on him (trust me, you’ll understand once you see the scene). Duke didn’t do much for me, even though he had a few funny lines – the script mostly has his character running around on all sorts of errands. I’m most disappointed with John Cusack’s performance, though; he, Glover and Chase are huge actors from the 80s and each of their parts should have shined. But alas, much like 2012, it felt like Cusack “phoned in” his performance.
The cameos in the film are great. There’s Chevy Chase, Craig Robinson’s real life band “Nasty Delicious” and I think I even saw William “Sweep the Leg” Zabka in there. However, Chevy Chase is completely wasted as the mysterious hot tub repairman that talks in vague comments and never seems to be around when the guys need him. The only person that gets to do any real interacting with Chase is the young Clark Duke. Sebastian Stan plays Blaine (another 80’s reference), the ski lodge’s head patrol guy, who causes young Lou much anxiety and is the source of more than one of his black eyes.
One of the best parts of the story revolves around Glover’s one-armed character and how he got to be that way. In 1986 he has two arms and the film does a good job of building up the anticipation over how he actually loses it. That entire sub-plot is very funny and just about every scene with Glover in it makes you think “Oh here it comes!”
Steve Pink does have the movie dripping with 80s throwback references, including lines from a few of Cusack’s films like Better Off Dead. I won’t tell you where they are, but see if you can spot them all. Pink even told me that one line was cut from the film because it felt too forced. The guys fall off a cliff while skiing and Cusack asks “Are we dead?” to which Robinson replies, “We’d be better off.” I get a chuckle from it now but in the theater it would have been groan inducing, so that was a good decision to leave it out.
Overall, Hot Tub Time Machine is exactly what you would expect a movie with that title to be – fun but not perfect. MGM is hoping this will pull in Hangover or Knocked Up-type numbers this weekend, but I don’t think that will be the case. However, I do think it could very well end up in the $100 million range, which, on a $36 million dollar budget, wouldn’t be bad at all.
One good piece of knowledge to take away from this film: Steve Pink suggested to me that a drinking game should be made where you drink a shot for every time the bear mascot is spotted on screen. Have fun with that.