You resisted going to check out Hot Tub Time Machine on opening weekend. You thought to yourself "looks silly" or "looks stupid" or "Um, WTF?"
Stop thinking. Shut down the intellect. You might even temporarily dispose of your value system and rush down to your neighborhood theatre to check out Hot Tub Time Machine, a bizarrely silly, crude, over-the-top offensive and very, very funny comedy about a trio of 40-something men who've become bored with their lives who return to a symbol of their vibrant youth, a mountain top resort, and find themselves transported to their teenage years of 1986.
Very, very funny. If you can simply go with it and, as well, are not easily offended or freaked out by sexual, scatological, cultural and downright sub-moronic humor, then Hot Tub Time Machine may very well turn into one of 2010's comedic highlights for you.
Hot Tub Time Machine is the kind of film John Cusack used to make, a unique mix of heart and humor, admittedly much naughtier here than usual, wrapped around characters you actually care about and enjoy spending time with for a couple hours. After making a couple films that matter, Grace is Gone and War, Inc., it's strangely comfortable and wonderful to see Cusack back in a film like this one and in a role like Adam, who has just been dumped by his girlfriend.
Along with Adam, Hot Tub Time Machine features Nick (Craig Robinson), an almost but not quite happily married man working as a dog groomer rather than fulfilling his musical aspirations, and the wildly self-destructive Lou (Rob Corddry). Young blood exists in the form of Adam's younger nephew, Jacob (Clark Duke).
Of course, no retro-themed over-the-top comedy would be complete with a a select group of 80's cinematic icons, semi-icons and cult faves such as Chevy Chase, Crispin Glover (one of the film's highlights) and enough Back to the Future references and tributes to practically give you a retro orgasm.
Don't ask me what a retro orgasm is...nothing makes sense here.
The joy of Hot Tub Time Machine, and trust me that there is much emotion to be felt here, is that director Steve Pink and co-writers Josh Heald and Sean Anders have unabashedly created a sex comedy with heart,a bawdy-centered cinematic beast that finds its humors in the very real joys and sorrows of becoming older, having regrets, exploring regrets, discovering more regrets and yet, somehow, moving right along. Heald also created the story behind the recent She's Out of My League, a much less raunchy but similarly manifested mix of heart and humor.
It's a shame, really, that MGM has marketed the film so poorly, because there's little doubt that audiences who venture into the film, say The Hangover crowd, will find much to love here. While The Hangover was undeniably more sentimental, Hot Tub Time Machine is simply balls to the walls humor that is completely and utterly relentless during the film's 100-minute run time.
The ensemble cast is stellar, with Cusack managing to make his maturity work wonders as Adam, a 40-year-old who will undoubtedly bring to mind the same kind of character Cusack played in his 20's with great success. Corddry is freakishly and maniacally hilarious while Craig Robinson and Clark Duke also turn their performances up a couple notches with tremendous success. Stealing virtually every scene he's in, Crispin Glover is spot-on perfect as a resort bellhop with a running bit that manages to always feel fresh and actually gets funnier as it moves along.
Special effects are appropriately kitschy and the original score? 80's music fans will experience nothing but joy. The film's production values are appropriately retro, a theme that permeates virtually every cell of this film.
Not for the faint of heart and definitely not for a family outing, Hot Tub Time Machine is a joyously R-rated, surprisingly insightful yet uncontrollably outrageous film in which heart and humor mesh perfectly, the over-the-top laughs nearly always feel fresh and even tired old gags feel natural and authentic. Ignore the not so entertaining trailer and go check out Hot Tub Time Machine.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic