Movie Review – Hot Tub Time Machine

Plot: Three friends (and one nephew) try and re-capture their youth for the weekend by returning to a famed ski lodge in which they always had a memorable time.  But while getting drunk in the hot tub, alcohol short circuits the wiring sending them back to the 80’s.  Will they mess with the past or follow the space time continuum rules?

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie this funny.  Sure, this past decade had some great comedies like The Royal Tenenbaums and Tropic Thunder, but I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.  This is in the vain of comedies from yesteryear; Clever, but don’t take themselves too seriously and are consistently hilarious.  Comedies don’t have to shock you with gross out jokes.  They don’t have to have Will Ferrell dancing around like a buffoon.  They don’t have to have Vince Vaughn talking really fast.  They just need to be funny.  Hot Tub Time Machine is a simple story, but so uproarious.

What’s great about this film is that it doesn’t just say, “Hey, let’s make fun of the 80’s and ride that all the way to the bank.”  It’s about the characters, not the time period.  And the characters are all consistently funny.  I have to admit, I’ve never seen a John Cusack movie I liked.  I always thought of this guy as Mr. Mediocre.  His movies don’t suck, but they aren’t super memorable either.  And he’s always just kind of…there.  But in Hut Tub Time Machine, I finally saw the comedic talent.  Cusack plays Adam, the straight man of the group, and he plays it to perfection; so well in fact that I love when he strays from that persona, but he never goes overboard.  He’s extremely likable in this movie.

The man who steals the show though is Lou, played by Rob Corddry, the wild man of the group who is throwing out swears like peanuts at a baseball game.  You always have to have that guy in these types of movies.  Sometimes they are great, but sometimes they fail horribly.  What I love about this character is that he’s the money hungry pathetic jackass, but he realizes it.  Most of these types of characters in comedies are not aware of this, making them annoying and detestable.

There are some fantastic supporting roles here as well.  Crispin Glover of Back to the Future fame is hysterical, having one of the funniest long running jokes I’ve ever seen in a movie.  This joke is brought up constantly, but doesn’t get old.  Now that’s the sign of a great comedy.  I have to say though, one of the characters I was looking forward to the most was Chevy Chase as the mystical Hot Tub repairman.  It’s not that he was bad, but he never made me laugh.  I know Chase has hit the skids the last few years, but I know he’s also capable of more, and I feel he was underutilized.  He just kind of comes in, says a random line, and leaves.  Unfortunately, this was the worst part of the movie.

Now as I said before, the jokes rarely derive from the fact that these dudes are in the 80’s.  However, there are some very subtle and clever little 80’s throwbacks that you really have to pay attention for that are gut-wrenchingly funny.  There is one towards the end taking a shot at Karate Kid that is barely audible, but if you hear it and know Karate Kid, you will crack up.  I did.  And I love the clever throwbacks to other famous time travel movies like Back to the Future and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  This is how you make fun of a time period.  It’s not shoving the clothes and hairstyles down your throat, but subtle hints.

And like I said, it doesn’t play off cheap gross out jokes.  Sure, there is some potty humor here, but it’s done in smart ways like There’s Something about Mary and not a bad Kevin Smith movie.

If you’re like me and haven’t laughed really hard at the movies in a long time, then go see this one.  This absolutely trumps recent comedic hits like The Hangover or Wedding Crashers.  It’s not that these movies are bad, it’s just that I don’t laugh a lot when I see them.  I get chuckles here and there, but Hot Tub Time Machine brings you genuine laughs.

Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)

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