MGM // 2010 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // July 7th, 2010
The tub is even hotter on Blu-ray!
"It's called male bonding, okay? Haven't you seen Wild Hogs?"
Adam (John Cusack, 2012), Nick (Craig Robinson, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), and Lou (Rob Corddry, The Daily Show) are middle-aged men whose lives haven't turned out so well. Adam is struggling in the aftermath of a rough divorce. Nick has just discovered that his wife is cheating on him. Lou is an alcoholic who's just made an unsuccessful attempt at committing suicide. Recognizing that Lou's problems are the worst, Adam and Nick decide to take Lou and Adam's nephew Jacob (Clark Duke, Greek) to their favorite ski resort for a weekend of good times and relaxation. Alas, the once-buzzing resort is now nearly abandoned. With few exciting activities taking place around town, the foursome resorts to drinking in the hot tub.
Not just any hot tub, mind you. A hot tub time machine.
This hot tub time machine takes the guys back to the year 1986, placing them inside their younger bodies and forcing them to re-live some rather painful memories. How will the guys handle this situation? More importantly, will they ever be able to make it back to 2010?
Hot Tub Time Machine. Either you want to see that movie or you don't, so I doubt what I have to say is going to make much of a difference. Even so, it is my duty to report that the film does indeed feature a hot tub time machine, and that said hot tub time machine does indeed do precisely the sort of things one would want such a device to do. I should also report that the film is reasonably entertaining, if not a gut-busting laugh riot. Despite being directed by regular John Cusack collaborator Steve Pink (who previously helmed the good Grosse Point Blank and wrote the great High Fidelity), the film is closer in tone to The Hangover than to any of Cusack's previous comedies.
I'm still kind of surprised to see Cusack in a film like this, as he tends to be a reasonably smart actor who tends to star in reasonably clever comedies. The humor in Hot Tub Time Machine is about as broad as it gets (one gag involves a character vomiting on a squirrel), so don't come in expecting much wit or subtlety. There are some laughs to be found here and there, but the wild stuff was generally less interesting to me than some of the little throwaway touches found throughout.
I'm thinking of the moment where Corddry describes a scene from The Terminator and refers to the characters as, "T-1000, Sarah Connor, and Michael Biehn," or the knowingly melodramatic manner in which Robinson delivers a line of dialogue containing the title of the film (usually an annoyance in films; this time a clever delight). Or how about all of the conversations the characters have about time travel, in which their theories are generally based on how convincing the theories proposed by various films are? In a particularly devious bit of pop culture humor, one character exclaims "That was such a great movie!" when another mentions the The Butterfly Effect.
The performances are solid. The most instantly memorable turn comes from Rob Corddry, playing the wild, over-the-top character that drives much of the action, causes many of the problems, and creates some of the film's most preposterous scenarios. It's a fine showcase for Corddry's brand of insanity; a brand seemingly rescued from the hell of poorly-received straight-to-DVD comedies. At the other end of the spectrum is Clark Duke, doing a variation on the sort of nervous prude he plays so well in Greek. Stuck in the middle are Cusack and Robinson, who seem to be in a contest to see who can deliver their lines in the most drolly understated manner (a fact accentuated when the two characters will actually start mumbling phrases together under their breath). Crispin Glover (Back to the Future) and Chevy Chase (Community) both turn up to play one-joke characters, though the joke is funnier in Glover's case.
The hi-def transfer is quite strong, as the film's amusingly lurid '80s palette pops off the screen with depth and clarity. Detail is excellent throughout, which only becomes a problem when the rather unimpressive CGI is on display (seriously, it's pretty rough). There is faint grain that appears from time to time but it's all natural and never distracting. Darker scenes benefit from deep blacks and strong shading. Audio is quite solid as well, with some of the rowdier scenes actually managing to stir up quite a ruckus in the speaker system. Everything is clear and well-distributed; my only complaint is that some remote adjusting may be required from time to time due to the softness of the dialogue in contrast to the noise of the party scenes. Extras are limited to some deleted scenes, 6 minutes of cheesy EPK-style featurettes ("Production: Acting Like Idiots," "Chevy Chase: The Nicest Guy in Hollywood," "Totally Radical Outfits," and "Crispin Glover: One-Armed Bellhop"), a trailer, and a digital copy.
It's stupid. It's juvenile. It's completely illogical on a regular basis. It's Hot Tub Time Machine.
It's fun enough to merit a look but not entertaining enough to merit many repeat viewings. Considering the weak supplemental package, I'd give this one a rental and leave it at that.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Digital Copy