Starring: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Sebastian Stan, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase, Lyndsy Fonseca
Directed By: Steve Pink
Written By: Josh Heald, Sean Anders, John Morris
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 41 min
The midlife crisis. That period in one’s life, usually after turning 40, where we look back at our time here on planet Earth and take stock of our achievements. Then quietly freak out when we realize we’ve basically done jack-sh*t and accomplished very little! Such is the basis, along with some 80’s nostalgic fun, for the somewhat effective comedy, Hot Tub Time Machine.
Time travel stories are always good conversation starters. What would you do if you could? Yada yada yada, etc. And for three 40 something friends, who are dissatisfied with how their lives have turned out, a malfunctioning hot tub fueled by a Russian energy drink, gives these guys a chance to relive a memorable weekend at the Kodiak Valley Ski Resort, back in 1986.
What follows however, isn’t really effective as a comedy about middle-aged men taking stock of their lives. And the movie prefers instead to take the easy route, and exploit the inherent humor in a story about traveling back to the 80’s. As you might expect, we’re treated to a glut of visual nostalgia from that period in time. Big hair, great music, leg warmers, Reagan, Walk-man’s and brick sized cell phones. Which is all great, if your formative years included any part of that decade.
As a straight up basic, somewhat crass comedy, Hot Tub is mostly effective and decent performances from John Cusack and Craig Robinson certainly balance the humorous elements in this story, with its more serious take on youth, and the decisions we make that shape our lives. It also includes some hilarious reoccurring jokes as the story eventually reveals how Phil the lobby boy (Crispin Glover), loses his arm. And Chevy Chase mysteriously appears throughout the film to deliver cryptic clues as to how the gang should proceed in order to return to the future.
I did however, have a problem with Rob Corddry’s character, Lou. In a fun time travel movie about the 80’s, did it really need a suicidal mean-spirited jerk like Lou? At frequent moments during the movie, Corddry’s nasty over the top delivery of his character’s dialog just pulled me out of the film. It seemed out-of-place, and just didn’t sit well with the lighthearted nature of a film about hot tub time travelers.
This is a movie for all those folks that say ‘the 80’s was MY decade.’ So anyone born in the 60’s and early 70’s will likely enjoy this trip down memory lane. If you’re looking for a more effective comedy about the midlife crisis, may I suggest you watch City Slickers instead. Hot Tub Time Machine is rated R due to language, drug use and brief moments of sex and nudity.
This isn’t big on spectacle, so a HD rental will service this film well enough. It would be more fun to watch this film with a group of friends who also share your love of the 80’s.
I really enjoyed Crispin Glover’s character, Phil. The mystery as to how he loses his arm is nicely teased throughout the film.