REVIEW: Hot Tub Time Machine

2 09 2010

Walkmans and legwarmers and tracksuits, oh my!

It’s a blast back to the ’80s in “Hot Tub Time Machine,” the raunchy romp that defies the laws of physics.  A sort of irreverent “Back to the Future,” the movie has no science to back up what is happening.  Then again, do you expect much to back up the premise that a hot tub could transport a group of four drunk guys 25 years into the past?

Thanks to the bubbling portal, the four losers in 2010 get a chance to be their younger, cooler selves in 1986 (with the exception of Clark Duke’s gaming Jacob, who has yet to be born).  In their hangover logic, they decided that they need to do exactly as they did when they lived the weekend the first time.  For some of them, it means promiscuous escapades; for others, it means taking punches.

For those of us who didn’t live through the decade, for better or for worse, the movie still manages to be funny.  It’s not some giant ’80s inside joke; there are some nods to “Back to the Future,” both through situations and the perfectly cast Crispin Glover as a creepy bellhop, but they don’t make the movie any less accessible for those who haven’t seen it.  There’s plenty of universal humor that anyone can laugh at – provided they check their maturity at the door.

The bulk of the comedy comes courtesy of Craig Robinson, who plays Nick, the guy whipped by his unfaithful wife to the point that he takes her last name.  Robinson has been gold on “The Office” for several years now and has done many memorable supporting roles, often times being a highlight of those movies.  If “Hot Tub Time Machine” isn’t enough of a testament to his comedic talent to give him a headlining role over Chris Rock (or any other tired comedian, for that matter), there is truly no justice in the world.

Everyone else is good too, just no one on the level of Robinson.  Most of the jokes centered around John Cusack come at the expense of his own fame in the ’80s.  The woebegone Lou, played by Rob Corddry, is the most crass of the bunch, which guarantees a few laughs.  Duke’s Jacob is great for those of who didn’t live in the decade as he gapes in amazement at the social climate.  And then there’s Chevy Chase as the hot tub repairman, who is just plain creepy.

But the movie’s best facet (and the one that will make it stand out among recent comedies) is its willingness to forget teaching a lesson and just have fun.  It doesn’t pretend to have scrupulous morals; really, it doesn’t pretend to have any morals at all.  “Hot Tub Time Machine” is four guys having fun, and for once, Hollywood’s rules don’t spoil it.  B+ /

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