Somewhere, deep in the bowels of the corporate offices at MGM Studios, there is a paralegal. That paralegal works in the Trademarks Dept. One day, a brief came across his or her desk, and the outer edge of the manila folder simply read: “Hot Tub Time Machine.” One can only envision the thoughts that must have run through their head: “I don’t get paid enough for this,” “Jesus, really, in this economy?”, or more likely, “I wonder if Rob Cordy’s going to be in it?”
Well apropos to this intern’s preponderance, he is! Coupled with John Cusak, Clark Duke, and an absolutely hilarious Craig Robinson, this “It’s a Wonderful Life” homage takes a tack through the old “What would you do if you were given a second chance” waters while still being the over-the-top R-rated comedy the classic 18-25 year old demographic is looking for.
Lou’s (Cordy) life is booze and banzai, a lost regard for anything sacred. His is a life of balding, sagging sadness. Adam (Cusak) has just been through a heavily contested divorce where she even took the TV. The TV! Even when it had a red dot on it! Nick (Robinson) has a love of animals, but is on the ass-end of a terrible job. And Jacob (Duke), Adam’s nephew, is living in Adam’s basement, living out a Second Life, because, let’s face it, his first life is fat and dorky.
The three former best friends’ lives are all at crossroads. They intersect on the self-destructive shenanigans of one. Lou accidently tries to kill himself. This results in an ill-conceived idea to travel to Kodiak Valley. This also results in a scene with a catheter that won’t easily be forgotten. Kodiak Valley is a ski resort where the men had spent their drug-addled youth ripping the mountain and getting laid. Things, however, are not what they used to be.
Kodiak Valley appears to be on the verge of bankruptcy. The rooms are in disrepair. Their creepy bell hop Phil (played with running gag perfection by Crispin Glover) is hilariously disfigured. The mountain is as broken as the men who are on it.
Ah, but what will these men do to relieve the pressures of the real world? A dip in the hot tub sounds nice. Combine some booze, Chernobly (you’ll see), a montage of swirling water, Chevy Chase, a giant bear, and a squirrel, and our anti-heros end up in 1986.
First off, there’s way too much of Rob Cordry’s ass in this movie. That’s neither a positive or a negative attribute, it’s just a stated fact. The pop culture references are cliché, but fantastic: “I can’t wait to go to prison to tell everyone I came back from the future and killed my father!”
This movie also nods its head to the trailblazers before it. Just having Crispin Glover in a movie about time travel to the 1980’s is enough to bring up visions of the Back to The Future trilogy. And with one of the characters flickering in and out of existence, Marty McFly would be proud. The Butterfly Effect gets it’s due. Hell, even Red Dawn gets an honorary and necessary mention.
Let’s not pretend anything about plot holes in a movie like this. There’s nothing to be said for that, though there are some continuity issues that were missed in editing. I won’t break into them, because… well, I mean, seriously? Are we really going to dissect “Hot Tub Time Machine” for plot holes and story inconsistency? The story is solid; it missed a few small points, but in the greater scheme of things, it works for a movie like this.
B+. Grab a towel, drop your pants, crack open some beers (or your favorite illegally imported Russian Nitronium-laced energy drink), and crank up the bubbles. You’re in for a fantastic dip in the ‘Tub.
Grioghar "Greg" Thomas-Baldwin likes to (formally) Powerlift, read comics, watch movies, jam to Bastard Pop, and hang out with his wife and kids when he's not working at The Starlite Drive-In making customers move their cars and high-fiving the kiddos. Then, he likes to write about all that, tech schtuff, and more, here, and elsewhere, under a few pseudonyms.