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Hot Tub Time Machine takes John Cusak back to the 80’s, but is a let-down

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Hot Tub Time Machine is a comedy for the inner aging frat boy in all of us. Well, kinda. For the rest of the universe that doesn’t fit into that category, this raunchy film is a hot tub time machinehit and miss affair.

Machine is an agreeably silly, raucous low budget sex romp if there ever was one, fully embracing its roots in that manner. Sex jokes, vomit jokes, pointless nudity, rampant drug use. It’s all there. However, it’s crass when it should be funny, numbing when it should be engaging, and overly juvenile in unimaginative ways.

Seeing John Cusak in the cast last really throws one off, as he usually associates himself with classier material, but he has strayed far from that realm here. The departure could have actually been refreshing in better hands, but Hot Tub Time Machine isn’t really innovative or interesting most of the time.

Cusak is one of four college buddies who re-unite for a weekend away in a cabin where the group had many memories as teenagers. Nick (Craig Robinsin) was the headliner in a band. Lou (Rob Corddry) had sex with a hot chick. Adam (Cusak) broke up with his high school sweetheart and can’t remember why. All of these questions and more are answered when a night of binge drinking in a magic hotel hot tub leads to peculiar results. When the hangover sets in, they all realize they have been transported back to 1986, where they can relive their past, and change it if they want.

Dumb bromance comedies can be done pretty well, just take a look at last summer’s The Hangover for a good example. But that film felt a whole lot less irritating, and wasn’t as insulting on brain cells as Hot Tub Time Machine is. The characters gelled in that film, while in Machine they just yell and scream until everyone in the audience wishes they were drunk too. The overly juvenile humor is also glaringly homophobic, which is really just in bad taste overall.

The place where the movie fails the most is in the time travel concept. Some things are touched upon to funny effect, such as the fashion, music and technology (they think the iphone is a communist tool). However, when it comes to the way these guys alter the future with their actions, the film is a dud. It really doesn’t have the creativity to really do anything worthwhile with the set up in the long run.

That said Hot Tub Time Machine is not a total bust. As an example of the genre, the movie has a few smart moments and some great one-liners. It’s a crowd pleaser too, but the whole thing was too much for me to handle. It’s the equivalent of sitting in a hot tub too long. Fun at first, but dizzy and nauseating after 20 minutes.

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com