Mar 30 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

Last night, a friend and I went to see Steve Pink’s sci-kitsch comedy, “Hot Tub Time Machine“. I’m not exactly sure why I wanted to see this movie; my expectations weren’t exactly high. I’ve liked time-travel comedies in the past (e.g., “Back to the Future” (1985), “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989), “Blast from the Past“), so maybe I was looking for more of the same? Maybe I just liked the name, reminds me of “Snakes on a Plane” (2006). I also like a number of the actors: John Cusack, Rob Corddry (of “The Daily Show” fame), Crispin Glover, and of course Chevy Chase. The preceding list are just the actors I was familiar with going into the movie, Clark Duke (soon to appear in “Kick-Ass” (2010)) and Craig Robinson (from the American version of “The Office”) more than held their own.

The movie follows a group of middle-aged friends whose lives haven’t turned-out quite the way they expected. When one of their number tries to commit suicide they are drawn together and decide to spend a weekend catching-up at an old ski resort that they frequented when they were younger. An accident with a Russian energy-drink short-circuits the hot tub and they are catapulted back to 1986 (makes perfect sense!) to relive a pivotal night of their young lives. Thankfully, the movie does not try to explain how or why this happens. The closest we get to an explanation is via random appearances of Chevy Chase as a hot tub repairman who may or may not know what’s going-on. During the movie, I thought the older men (Clark Duke’s character wasn’t alive in 1986) had been astrally-projected into their younger bodies, but the ending pretty much destroyed that theory. Again, the mechanics don’t matter becauseĀ  time-travel (short of time-dilation) is probably not possible anyway.

So, did I like it? Yes, I did. As an aside, hot tubs inevitably remind me of the slow-motion opening of “Change of Seasons” (1980) with Bo Derek (horrible movie BTW, but that section of the VHS tape had tracking problems by the time we returned it… just saying) . Back to HTTM. Sure, the movie dragged here and there. Sure, I never knew whether to laugh or cringe at Chevy Chase’s deadpan performance. Sure, John Cusack played the same character he ALWAYS plays (though curiously, his sister was no where to be seen). Sure, the sole purpose of the script may have been to put doughy middle-aged men together with beautiful young ski-bunnies…. but it was still funny. Maybe that had to do with my pre-movie ritual margarita preparations (which are a requirement before seeing any comedy) but I kind of doubt it since they were pretty weak! The movie is packed with 80s pop and music references. Warning: if you don’t remember the 80s, you won’t get half of the jokes. The catheter scene had me laughing like I haven’t laughed (in a movie) in years. Low-brow, sure. Funny, yes! Glover’s bellboy character was awesome. But more than anything else, this will be Corddry’s ticket to bigger movies, much like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” was for Steve Carell. I only hope that enough people see it (it ranked #3 in it’s opening weekend) to make that happen. So… If bodily fluids can still make you snicker, if foul language doesn’t make you all uppity, if you can laugh at uncomfortable sexual humor, and you won’t be running off afterward to see if “A Brief History of Time” has any mention of Chernobyl soft-drinks… you have a good chance of liking this movie too.

“It looks like Gary Coleman’s forearm.”

4 out of 5