Hot Tub Time Machine Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated March 25th, 2010 at 9:04 pm,

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.

hot tub time machine group1 Hot Tub Time Machine Review

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.

hot tub time machine review Hot Tub Time Machine Review

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.

hot tub time machine Hot Tub Time Machine Review

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.

hot tub time machine 80s Hot Tub Time Machine Review

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.

Continue reading our review of Hot Tub Time Machine


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!”

hot tub time machine glover Hot Tub Time Machine Review

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.

hot tub time machine bear d Hot Tub Time Machine Review

These people love their plush, anthropomorphized animals.

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.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. Never thought I would hear the word dissapointed directed toward a John cusack performance

  2. Never thought I would say it.

  3. thought the movie looked decently funny but the only reason I planned to shell out the cash to see was cusack solid acting if he gives a poor performance I think I'll skip it. Usually even in his not so good films (very short list) he's still great.

  4. The rest of the film I really did find funny, and I kept waiting for him to break into some “classic” Cusack from the 80's but it never happened. Maybe that's why I was disappointed. He's by no means a bad actor, and I would never imply that. I just thought he could have done more with his role and didn't.

  5. Just saw the movie and had a great time. Very funny with some really raunchy/gross moments that left me laughing well after. GREAT performances all around. 3.75/5 for me. GO SEE IT !

  6. jon cusack in my mind has always been one of the most overrated actors out there. (along with nick cage). Con Air def comes to mind wow that was terrible. But I love these kinds of movies I will def catch it soon. Thanks for the drinking game idea I will be bringing a bottle!

  7. 3.5 out of 5? You mean 4 out of 5 at least. For real this is the best comedy in the theater right now. I haven't laughed this much since The Hangover and before then… who knows. If you ever wondered “what if” and thought about the one that got away you need to see this movie. Also f*** the butterfly.

  8. Yeah I laughed but the story was way out of control with unneeded sub-plots and ridiculous story arcs. I couldn't, in all honesty, give it higher than that. I stand behind my review but I'm glad you really enjoyed the film. It didn't suck by any means.

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  10. OMG….I think Cusack just needs to make a time machine and go back to the 80s and stay there!!! I saw the movie and was not impressed. I spent 45 minutes of this tyanical movie rolling my eyes at the predictable thing. Cusack is an old overrated, washed-up, tired relic of an even more overrated decade. Ok, maybe he was a big hit in the 80s and 90s, and maybe he redeemed himself just alittle in his Iron Man movie, but good GOD man, these nostalgic movies are just so predictable and boring. It's just like Jason Biggs playing the same lame hopeless romantic who rarely ever gets the girl and even if he does it's because he whines like a little b**** so women will like him. It's just too common and yes, again, predictable. As for the 80s, it was fun to relive that wacky and cheesy decade in the 2000s as the twenty year culture revival, but now it's 2010 so let's let the 80s go forever and get with the 2010s way of thinking.

  11. Also, how the HELL is 1986 20 years ago from 2010? Just another rant.

  12. I really enjoyed this movie. Sometimes you have to let the flaws roll by and focus on the journey. I laughed my A$$ off, even saw this pic 3 times. It was a fun ride and I think thats all these guys had in mind. It was entertainment with a twist of 80’s, which I loved. I grew up in the 80’s (born in 78) so seeing John back in this sort of role was funny. I’ll def look for this on disc when it arrives, and hope for some outtakes and maybe some commentary. Im not saying you’re “Better of Dead” if you miss this one, but it might go over better after you get over “The Hangover”.