Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Stars: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase

Director: Steve Pink

Three 40-something friends and a nephew go on a lark to a ski resort that once figured meaningfully in the older men's lives--hop into a hot tub that's really some kind of energy vortex, and are magically transported back to 1986. There they will have to deal with the same screwballs and try to faithfully relive everything that happened to them back in the day, if they are to have any chance of making it back to 2010 as their unscathed older selves.

Adam (John Cusack) is dealing with the aftermath of his girlfriend moving out on him (and ripping off the TV too) . Lou (Rob Corddry) is an obnoxious drunk who may or may not have tried to commit suicide. Nick (Craig Robinson) is a failed musician who suspects his wife of cheating on him. And Jacob, (Clark Duke) Adam's nephew, is a nerdy video game addict.

None of their lives is spectacular, so it makes you wonder why they even want everything to come out the same and return to the present (except for a lot of the stuff they have to relive back here is pretty disgusting!) Why not roll the dice and see what happens? Instead, they attempt to follow through on the advice of the mysterious hot tub repairman, (Chevy Chase) who advises them that nothing from the past must be changed. The laughs in Hot Tub Time Machine stem from the screw-ups that occur as the four hapless dudes attempt to stick to the script. And what's on the agenda is wild women, boobs, casual sex, getting drunk, vomiting, and other fun stuff like that.

Adam must break up with his foxy eighties girlfriend, but the feelings he has for her are making it tough. (And for all his trouble, he gets stabbed just above the eye with a fork. Ha ha ho ho hoo hoo hee hee!) Lou must encounter a bully who messes up his face on multiple occasions--and allowing that to happen again is humiliating, not to mention painful. Nick is still dealing with the hurt caused by his unfaithful wife, plus the regret of having given up his music career. But here he has a chance to get his groove back. Twenty-something Jacob unexpectantly gets tapped to try to keep the others in line when the craziness gets out of hand--when he's not dealing with situations like meeting his party girl mom nine months before he is born and nervously admonishing her to lay off the drugs. A running gag involves Crispin Glover as a one armed bellboy, providing some further gross-out humor.

You may get the impression from all this that Hot Tub Time Machine has nothing serious to say.
But philosophical questions do arise, such as when you see someone in physical danger, and you know what's going to happen, do you stand idly by and allow it to occur for fear of changing a "predestined" reality? And what are the moral implications when one of our time travelers decides he doesn't want to go back, creating major repercussions for the future?

The question with Hot Tub Time Machine, I suppose, is how well do you handle verbal, sexual, bodily fluids and excretions gross-out that equals the level of that in Bruno? If you do that kind of GRODY TO THE MAX stuff without cringing, then you should be good to go. Some "totally tubular" eighties tunes are on the sound track--and that's something, at least, that Bruno didn't have.