Review: Hot Tub Time Machine

A well intentioned buddy comedy that will have more value to you if you remember the 1980s  or if you can identify with any of the characters. Unfortunately, a few obvious “gross-out” moments detracted from the time traveling.

With one of the best movie names, Hot Tub Time Machine tries to capture the vibe of The Hangover with a retro feel. Adding John “God of ‘80s angst” Cusack is a nice touch but ultimately doesn’t quite live up to it’s absurdly awesome premise.


Three friends (and a nephew) are brought together after growing apart years ago. To rekindle some of that teenage machismo, they return to the winter holiday cabin they partied at as kids. For no apparent reason (but we don’t really care) the hot tub is a time machine transporting them back to a TSN turning-point weekend for them back in 1986. The rest of the movie is a “should we or shouldn’t we screw with the past to affect the future” dilemma and how the heck are they going to get back to the future (yeah I said that).

Three things sold me on this movie. John Cusack, Craig Robinson and a hot tub time machine. Cusack doesn’t make bad movies, Robinson is the “go to” funny guy right now and COME ON! It’s a HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.

The premise is absurd and it’s suppose to be but the point is the funny, not the Star Trekishness. That’s right. Go with it. And it’s fun. The 80s, Motley Crue, legwarmers… You may get more out of it if you remember the time period but it’s so over exposed now as retro that that shouldn’t even be a problem. Even the inclusion of Crispin Glover (McFly from Back to the Future) was a nice link to time travelling movies of the 80s.

Two things that will really determine whether you like this movie are Rob Cordry and gross-out humour. Cordry gets his first big role and goes over the top with it. Not a bad thing if you like loud, funny and obnoxious. I may have gotten more enjoyment out of it than most because I know that guy. I can call him up right now. I’ve partied with the man…love of Motley Crue and all. Yes, he exists.

Second, if I had a big detractor for this movie is the need to throw in gross-out laughs. It actually takes you out of the story and just goes for cheap laughs. I think this movie would have had more feeling to it if those moments weren’t in there. Funny? Yes. Necessary to the movie. No.

Hot Tub Time Machine Rating:
3 stars – good movie, take a friend. A story of young life potential vs. the life that is. Great message, funny story, fun characters but really needed to focus on the heart of the movie rather than the cheap laughs.

Coming Attractions:
The A-Team (release date: June 11, 2010) – My mom was mean. My bedtime was 8:30 growing up and what time did A-Team air? 8 to 9. EIGHT TO NINE! So I only got the problem half, not the solution half ala armoured station wagons and bazooka propelled cabbages. This is not that show but damn if it doesn’t look fun and nostalgic.


Random Recommendations
The Sure Thing (1985) – From Rob Reiner, John Cusack and the guy who directed Hot Tub Time Machine. A conventional romantic comedy that is pretty obvious but it doesn’t mean the journey is any less fun. Funny, well acted and a fun trip back to the 80s (sans time machine).


True Colors (1991) – One of the things I love about writing this blog is it makes me go back and revisit some fantastic movies. This is one of those. John Cusack and James Spader play best friends with political aspirations and very different ways of succeeding. A more dramatic side for Cusack but still a great rental.
The Youtube video didn’t have audio so follow the link for the trailer:

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