Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Movie Review: Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine **
Directed By:
Steve Pink.
Written By: Josh Heald & Sean Anders & John Harris.Starring: John Cusack (Adam), Rob Corddry (Lou), Craig Robinson (Nick), Clark Duke (Jacob), Sebastain Stan (Blaine), Lyndsey Fanseca (Jenny), Crispin Glover (Phil), Chevy Chase (Repair Man), Lizzy Caplan (April), Charlie McDormott (Chaz).

Hot Tub Time Machine is a disappointing movie because it is not nearly as stupidly hilarious nor downright awful as a film with the title Hot Tub Time Machine really should have been. Instead, it is yet another lame comedy with a few inspired moments (almost all of which were in the preview) and a whole lot of filler material. It should have been funny - but for some reason it simply wasn’t.

The film is about three college friends who decide to revisit the ski resort where they had such great memories almost 25 years ago. The intervening years have not worked out the way they planned on, and they have drifted apart in that time. But when Lou (Rob Corddry) survives a lame suicide attempt, Adam (John Cusack) and Nick (Crag Robinson) are quilted into going up again. Along for the ride is Jacob (Clark Duke), Adam’s nephew, who was born nine months after the last time they went up there. A wild night of drinking leads the four of them to the hot tub, which somehow transports them back in time to that weekend when everything went wrong. While Adam, Lou and Nick appear like their former selves to everyone around them (although not to us, as Cusack, Robinson and Corddry still play them), Jacob goes back at the same age he is in the present. He is nervous that any change they make before they can get the hot tub fixed could result in a changed future - most importantly, he may not be born.

The movie should be funny. It knows that virtually every time travel device in movie history is pretty much completely and totally ridiculous, so it goes one better and comes up with probably the most ridiculous idea ever conceived for a time travel device. It is really just a way to get these guys back to 1986, so they can mock that decade mercilessly. The film is awash in 1980s style in all its hideous glory, and follows the formula of sex comedies of that decade pretty closely. For Cusack, this is something or a homecoming as he got his start in teen sex comedies in that decade. Disappointingly however, Cusack, how also produced the film, seemingly sleepwalks through his role here - even when he is in the same outfit he wore in Better Off Dead. Corddry and Robinson fare slightly better, having fun with their old school looks. Surprisingly, newcomer Clark Duke is the best of the bunch by far - but then again, he gets the best lines (“I write Stargate fan fiction, I think I know what I’m talking about”). He is hilarious in many of his scenes - which is why its disappointing he has the least screen time of the four leads, but it looks good for the upcoming Kick Ass, where he has another supporting role. Another highlight is Lizzy Caplan, an actress I have loved since her short lived sitcom The Class, who is once again cute, funny and sexy.

But overall, Hot Tub Time Machine doesn’t really provide any real laughs. There are some isolated chuckles, and moments of inspiration, but mainly the movie relies on toilet humor, sex jokes and projectile vomiting (a lot of projectile vomiting). These jokes can be funny if done right, but they are not done right in this movie.

Hot Tub Time Machine should have been a great comedy in the vein of something like The Hangover. But what Hot Tub Time Machine proves is how rare movies like The Hangover actually are. It isn’t easy to make this kind of movie well, as Hot Tub Time Machine proves.

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