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Hot Tub Time Machine
Genre Comedy
Year: 2010
 
Review:

Ahhh... 1986, Reagan was still President, Maradona scored the "Goal of the Century" in the FIFA World Cup in Mexico, Chernobyl was still doing plant tours, Mike Tyson won his first world boxing title, Lady Gaga said "ga-ga" for the first time, Voyager 2 had its first encounter with Uranus and Michael J. Fox manned the world's first flux capacitor-powered car time machine. No wonder Americans remember the '80s with such nostalgia and gusto.

Meanwhile back home in the Old South Africa, the struggle was underway with a minimum of 5 to 7 reported limpet mine or grenade explosions per month as Desmond Tutu was sworn in as the first black Anglican Church bishop. Shew - we've come a long way as a country, but I'm pretty sure that 1986 would not be very high up on your to-do list if you had a time machine. However, for our four intrepid American specimens in Hot Tub Time Machine... 1986 was a very different year, time and space. They were the good ole heydays, or more to the point... the bad hair days.

John Cusack became an '80s icon the minute he held that ghetto blaster above his head in the pouring rain in Say Anything... to express his teen angst and fragile emotional state. Cusack's an expert at getting drenched in his clothes, whether he's sitting on a park bench in High Fidelity or rescuing mankind in that reality docudrama 2012, and he doesn't disappoint in Hot Tub Time Machine. Now it's an unusual role for Cusack, one which we would've expected from Keanu Reeves in 1989. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure aside... Cusack is the man with the plan. He obviously remembers how cool Back to the Future was in 1985 and wanted to do his own little one-up high concept time travel fantasy comedy with a side order of teen misadventure. Why else would he have signed on as producer and actor?

He's not alone. After his best friend attempts to commit suicide while drunk, Adam (Cusack) decides that he, the suicidee and another high school buddy should relive their youth by checking into the same ski lodge that cemented their most famous later life teen memories and served as a turning point for the rest of their miserable lives within the confines of normalcy. Just as they're settling down in the crusty has-been hotel, their hot tub starts acting up and before you know it... they're reliving Winterfest '86 in a whirlwind of sex, drugs, rock 'n roll and '80s flair in Hot Tub Time Machine.

Hot Tub Time Machine co-stars Rob Corddry (What Happens in Vegas...), Craig Robinson (Zack and Miri Make A Porno) and Clark Duke (Kick-Ass), with Crispin Glover (Back to the Future) and Chevy Chase (The Three Amigoes) adding the '80s retroschlock. Corddry stars as Lou, which is basically short for loser, Robinson is in the mix as Nick, who is lucky to be off the leash and Duke is a little out-of-place as the disappearing time travel butterfly effect, freelancing as a geeky fourth wheel nephew. Crispin Glover fills in as the Back to the Future reference, cult figure and one-armed bell hop in a pretty funny character performance, while Chevy Chase replaces Christopher Lloyd's 'Doc' as the Repair Man in a so-so cameo.

This is the opposite of a chick flick... and there are echoes of The Hangover and City Slickers amid all the time-travel classics in this debauched trip down memory lane. We're transported to 1986 and even if you aren't a child of the '80s, there's plenty of fish-out-of-water comedy to contend with. The four-ball are represented as their 40-something "adult" bodies, but see their actual appearance in the mirror, which is pretty accurate in terms of likeness and funny to see how they used to roll. A Poison concert is the flavour of the day, along with loads of '80s classics to compete with soundtracks from Donnie Darko and The Wedding Singer.

Hot Tub Time Machine is one of those films you'll have a strong chance of enjoying if you fit the target audience demographic as a fun-loving 18 to 40-year-old virgin... okay, virginity is optional - but this is one of those dorks-go-back-in-time-to-humiliate-the-jocks-who-scarred-them-for-life stories. It's all Ferrellesque frat pack style tongue-in-cheek and there's no point in seeing Hot Tub Time Machine if you're going to pick at the time-travel scabs. It's not like they're trying to adapt an H.G.Wells novel... this is comedy and it's about feeling good, not about outsmarting the film-makers - come on.

The overall feeling is good if you're not easily offended by course language and promiscuous intercourse. The foursome take a little while to warm up and find their stride in this teen comedy romp, but don't be surprised if you see one or two patrons making a gap for the exit in the first half hour. They're not going to hurl (much), they're just not attuned to the cult-certified sleeper coolness of Hot Tub Time Machine. So as with all hot tubs, enter at your own risk and once you've grown accustomed to the fact that other people have also been naked where you are, watch out for bubbles, enjoy the warmth, the laughs and the afterglow.

The bottom line: Fun.

 

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