Director: Steve Pink
Cast: John Cusack, Crispin Glover, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Chevy Chase
Hot Tub Time Machine has one cool thing going for it: its title. A title like that will attract people even if the movie sucks. Same phenomenon occurred with Snakes on a Plane (2006), a terrible (though fun) film that made some bank and caused a buzz on the net simply because of its strange/catchy title, which has that ability to make people re-think it. People read titles like Hot Tub Time Machine and go: “Wait, what? A hot tub that’s a time machine? That’s got to be funny!” Unfortunately, most of the time, gimmicky titles like that one are made solely for the purpose of catching the eye of the easily impressed passers by and getting his or her butt inside the movie theater. Was this the case with Hot Tub Time Machine?
- Crispin Glover (who plays George McFly in Back to the Future) plays a character
- Like in The Hangover, we have four guys looking to escape their present lives and have a bit of an “guys night out” , drug use and alcohol abuse ensues.
I mean, the similarities are all over the place, you will eventually come to the conclusion just like I did, that the filmmakers simply saw Back to the Future and wanted to make a raunchier, 'funnier' version of it. You could almost hear the producers pitch “Its going to be Back to the Future meets The Hangover! It’ll be a hit!” Sad part is it kind of was a hit, and even some reviewers thought this movie was good. Even Roger Ebert liked it, but I got a feeling it’s just because he worships John Cusack.
The only glimmer of originality in the film is that Chevy Chase plays God, you know, the all knowing, ever present, ominous character that seems to know the answers to everything. Sadly, he is underplayed. Chevy Chase needs a come back role dammit! The other thing I didn’t like about this movie is that its kind of bitter. Now, I don’t mind a bitter film, but I do mind when that film is supposed to be a comedy. On this film, practically none of the characters are likable. Not even freaking John Cusack who is like an 80’s god, and has a masters degree on playing likable characters. On Hot Tub Time Machine he plays his character so one note that you’d be well advised to check Cusack’s pulse, just to make sure the actor in him is still alive. Rob Corddry plays an asshole ever step of the way, the kind of friend that is hard to love. Craig Robinson plays himself once again. But there was one character, played by Clark Duke that I thought was kind of interesting. He is the teenager that represents the younger generation coming up, the wise ass who thinks cheesy movies are bad. Its that kid that watches a movie from the 80s, like for example Howard the Duck (1986) and is always asking questions like “a duck from another dimension? That’s freaking impossible! And stupid!” So this character goes around the whole movie pointing out the cheesy aspects of the film, as if telling the younger generation “I know, this is freaking stupid, but remember: we’re trying to be a movie from the 80’s!”
Somebody give Chevy Chase his comeback already!
Did this movie achieve its purpose? Well, it is a raunchier more vulgar version of Back to the Future. My problem with it was that the 80’s thing should have been exploited a bit further. Capturing that vibe from the 80’s should've involved more than just having your characters wear Iron Maiden t-shirts. It involves more than having a song from the 80’s play every five minutes. I think they could have worked harder to make the 80’s feel more 80’s, they should have worked harder to capture the soul of th era, but it seems to me this movie was simply made to make a quick buck, not to make a good comedy that would stand the test of time. As it is, only one scene really truly stands out as 80's, where the guys walk into this cabin, and everything is suddenly super 80s! People using cassette players, people don’t know what a cellphone or being on line is and practically everybody in the room wears neon colors. Unfortunately, after that brief sequence, the rest of the film didn’t feel that 80’s to me. I know the 80’s wasn’t a decade known for its ‘soul’, but the soul of the 80’s is what this movie failed to capture.
Another negative thing about the movie is the way it was edited. It feels too choppy. By that I mean that the movie goes from one scene to the next without smooth transitions, things are to be taken for granted that they happened, and as a result, you feel like you are watching a movie skipping chapters. As if you were watching the movie on fast forward. I think the film does this because it is such a by the numbers film. Since this movie takes so much from other films, we as an audience already know what’s coming down the road and the filmmakers know that. So they figure they’ll cut the bull and put the story on fast forward, because they know you already saw Back to the Future. They know you know the rules for this kind of film. It's so sad that this kind of movie exists actually, a movie that relies on the fact that you know how its going to be played out. So, no surprises here, this my friends is a film made without any passion.
In conclusion, Hot Tub Time Machine is an extremely forgettable movie in my book. I saw it and have no desire of re-watching it. I took nothing with me from watching even though it was trying to talk about facing your fears or something. The characters are extremely bitter, they hate their lives and as a result, we hate it with them. And take it from me, I’m a child of the 80’s I lived and breathed the 80’s when I was a kid, so I know what Im talking about when I say this movie didn’t really feel like the 80’s. I was looking to re-live that era a bit, or at the very least, make some fun of it. Unfortunately, we still need a movie that truly captures what it was like to live in that decade.
Rating: 2 out of 5