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Monday, March 29, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine (*)



Let's turn up the heat on Hot Tub Time Machine: I thought it sucked. I went in expecting ribald comedy with 80's nostalgia, and that's what Hot Tub Time Machine delivered, except I'm still waiting for the comedy part. I don't want to be the spoilsport here, but I seriously hated this movie. The problem I ran into with Hot Tub Time Machine was that I hated the characters. John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke are a dysfunctional gang of friends who travel back in time via a malfunctioning magical hot tub to 1986. The appeal of John Cusack, an 80's teen movie icon, traveling back to the 80's was totally squandered. I mean, where were the jokes?  That people dressed funny in the 80's? That cell phones were the size of bricks? That the hairstyles were big?  Hot Tub Time Machine is lazy, right down to the editing. Scenes just go on and on, then stop with no punchline, tag, or point. In fact, the movie is so lazy, they don't even pay attention to their own details: It's clearly established Duke is 20 years old and that the four main characters travel back in time to 1986. That means the movie's "present" is 2006, if my remedial math is correct. Except Duke already has a flatscreen HDTV, which indicates its actually 2010 in the "present", and when the characters return to the "present", it's clearly established they return to 2010. Four years are unaccounted for, and the filmmakers didn't give a shit. The action in the past revolves around the four friends trying to do whatever it is they did back then so as not to disrupt the timeline, with references to the time travel plot in The Terminator, culminating in a big reveal straight out of The Terminator. Corddry's character is an unpleasant drunken boor, which is fine, except he wasn't funny.  Duke's 20 year old misfit, the nephew of Cusack's character, turns out to also be a foul mouthed asshole. There's a reason for that, it turns out, involving Corddry getting nasty in the past-y, but it doesn't mean I like them or the movie any better for it.  Robinson fares the best of the four by virtue of just being pleasant. Meanwhile, Cusack mostly sleepwalks through the movie and gives bare minimum effort. Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover appear but the movie hardly knows what to do with Chase while Glover also never quite finds a strong comedic foothold despite a sick runner about losing his arm. Bottom line, Cusack, Duke, Corddry, and Robinson were not four characters I wanted to spend any time with in any decade.