If Cinematically Correct Had A Time Machine, We’d Rent “Hot Tub Time Machine” Instead…
So how did this happen? How did a movie with this much comedic star power just miss the mark? Well, it may be due to the fact that the what was probably meant to be the funniest moment of the movie also is the most disgusting. It may be because the movie feels so episodic and disjointed. It may be because the movie’s big star seems so depressed and out of it throughout. Hell, the flick may have meant to be that way and I just missed the point. Whatever the reason, while quite hilarious in moments, it just didn’t reach “Wedding Crashers”/”The Hangover”/”The 40-Year Old Virgin” comedic gold territory.
The premise is fairly simple. Three middle aged friends set out for a weekend to try and help out their buddy after a failed suicide attempt. Of course, the three friends each have the stereotypical mid-life crisis problems: Adam (John Cusack, who must be friends with Richard Alpert because he doesn’t age) just had his live-in girlfriend move out, Nick (Craig Robinson) is a pathetically weak husband in an awfully depressed marriage, and finally there’s Lou (Rob Cordry). Lou is that manic depressive friend that has put his life in danger so many times that you don’t know if he’s trying to kill himself or just a dumpster fire of a human being. So the three guys, accompanied by Adam’s nephew Jacob (Clark Duke), head off to a ski lodge that they used to frequent in their youth.
It’s easy to know what happens next. They gang gets to the lodge, hops in the hot tub, and inexplicably are sent back to 1986. The most genius part of this time travel is that they go back and, instead of being older, they are stuck as their 1986-selves. From here, the movie has ups and downs, with most of the downs involving Chevy Chase as the hot tub maintenance guy. The ups come from my favorite part of the movie involving Crispin Glover’s one armed bellhop. Of all the moments in this wannabe 80s comedy, this one hit the nail right on the head.
By no means do I dislike this movie. Maybe I was just oversold by all the early hype? But I don’t think so. My main problem with the movie is what most will love about it. Rob Cordry’s Lou is far too easy to hate. He’s not only a dangerous alcoholic, he is a prick to who are supposed to be his friends. Sure, he’s hilariously sarcastic and rude, but by the end of the movie, I just didn’t like the guy. Not only that, but Cusack’s Adam is such a depressing sad-sack of a human that he’s tough to like as well.
The real winner here is Craig Robinson. He has the most boring character to play but yet every line he delivers is understated comedic gold. I measure comedies by the pieces of dialogue that somehow are immediately burned into my brain and his are the ones that I remember most.“Hot Tub Time Machine” would probably have been a lot more fun if it actually mocked the 80s in a way that didn’t seem to despise it. I won’t go into why the 1980s are seen as a failed decade pop culture-wise, but it wasn’t as bad as the world would like us to believe. The 1980s gave us “Thriller”, Journey, Indiana Jones, Air Jordans, all kinds of things that don’t suck. Sadly, “Hot Tub Time Machine” pretty much only references the crap (Poison, Miami Vice, popped collars, tape decks) that made the decade so disposable. I would really only recommend this movie based on Craig Robinson’s performance alone. For me, he completely saves the movie from becoming a depressing mess.