Hot Tub Time Machine
starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Crispin Glover, and Chevy Chase
directed by Steve Pink
written by Josh Heald, Sean Anders, and John Morris
MGM/United Artists (2010)
When I first heard about John Cusack signing on to star in this movie, a movie actually titled "Hot Tub Time Machine," I assumed he strictly needed to make a mortgage payment. It sounded so ridiculously bad on paper that I had zero faith in it. Boy, am I glad the trailers eased my doubts, and even happier to be proven wrong after seeing it.
Just imagine a modern raunchy comedy dipped in 80s fondue and served with a side of Chevy Chase. That's what this movie is.
Cusack has always seemed to be at his best when in a comedy as the straight man with a quirky edge. If you don't believe me, may I suggest you go back and watch High Fidelity or Gross Point Blank. And when flanked by Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson as his estranged best friends, as well as a surprisingly equal performance from Clark Duke as Cusack's nephew, the guy can't fail.
The movie carries a bit of disturbing throughline in the beginning, as Corddry's character is hospitalized after a perceived suicide attempt. To help him out Cusack and Robinson try to cheer him up by taking him out to their old stomping grounds at a ski lodge that they've mythologized as a college boy's mecca. When they arrive, however, it's a disheveled wreck. But hey, at least the hot tub still works. So they hop in and proceed to get absolutely plastered only to wake up the next day and gradually realize they're not in Kansas anymore--they're in the year 1986.
1986 is practically its own character in the movie too, as the ski lodge and the people populating the place are saturated in all their 80s glory. Jerry curls, leg warmers, MTV (when it was relevant), frizzed out bleach-blond hair, and acid-washed jeans. Never mind how the the four guys got there, just go with the inane causal agent of a spilled Russian energy drink shorting out the hot tub's controls. This isn't Robert J. Sawyer's brainchild, folks, so just bask in the spectacle.
And I'll bet some hypercritical sci-fi geeks really took issue with the flagrant middle finger given by the writers towards paradoxes and other obstacles from time travel. The movie, while dishing out sight gags and crude humor, practically dares viewers to nitpick over why such-and-such an event happens. Take for instance the fact that the four guys essentially "Quantum Leap" into their younger selves--except for Clark Duke's character which just seems to tail along as himself--but there's no reference to what happens to their younger counterparts when they leap back out. Someone's head probably exploded while tweeting their disdain for that plot point.
The movie is just pure fun and if you have the slightest ironic appreciation for the 80s, a decade which you couldn't pay me to revisit, then you really ought to see this movie if you haven't already.