Thursday, July 22, 2010

Too Much Time In Hot Tub Leads To Shrinkage

Hot Tub Time Machine

There was a time in the 80’s when you needed both interesting characters and a funny premise to have a successful buddy comedy. Think back to films like Trading Places and Planes Trains and Automobiles and you get my point. The 90’s saw the rise of City Slickers and folks who inhabited Wayne’s World and little by little the situations started to overshadow the characters. Now we have reached a point in buddy comedies where both the situation and the characters can be contrasted in matchbox size outline.

If you have seen the trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine then you already know everything you need to about the plot. There is very little left to explain story wise. Adam (John Cusack), Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry) head back to their old 80’s party-stomping for the weekend in hopes of reliving their glory days one last time. With Adam’s nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) in tow, the four men decide to drink their individual sorrows away and end up having a wild night in the hot tub. When the men wake up the next morning they are shocked to discover that they have all been transported back to 1986.

When Craig Robinson breaks the fourth wall and declares directly to the audience that “it must be some sort of Hot Tub Time Machine” he is clearly telling the viewer to officially check their brains at the door and enjoy the ride. Unfortunately we have been on this type of ride so much lately that the film runs out of steam fast than expected. Hot Tub Time Machine is very much akin to films like Old School and The Hangover. It even has all the same character types as those films. There is the good looking lead with relationship issues, the married one whose wife may be unfaithful, the man-child that refuses to grow up, and the nerd/straight man who just needs to loosen up. It was as if the screenwriters were using a paint-by-numbers book when writing the script.

While Hot Tub Time Machine does not offer much in the way of original comedy, it does have a few good laughs scattered throughout. The majority of the humour is directly correlated to the numerous 80’s references. Yet the highlight of the film in my opinion is Crispin Glover’s character, Phil. When Phil is first introduced he is a disgruntle hotel porter who is missing an arm. When the film jumps back to 1986 we see a much happier version of Phil with both appendages in tack. How does Phil lose his arm? Well that is one of the running gags in the picture. Phil always finds himself in dangerous situations though you never quite sure when, or if, the arm will go.

Hot Tub Time Machine will not be remembered as a comedy classic by any means. I would be shocked if it is even remembered by the end of this year. Still, thanks to Crispin Glover and a few well placed 80’s references, Hot Tub Time Machine is still worth a rental. It is one of those films that will play well on a boozy Friday night; or as television background noise at a party.


  1. Well said, CS! Funny, but nothing extraordinary to speak of. And yes - Crispin was the best part :)

  2. @Angie - I think it might have been something memorable if they took more time to flesh out an actual plot.

  3. Funny, but very, very raunchy.

  4. @CMrok93 - The raunchy humour was definitely there. Though I did not find it as vulgar as some of the other comedies that proceeded it.


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