Blu-Ray Review: Comedy Water is Fine in ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’

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CHICAGO – The most spoiler-named film since “Snakes on a Plane” delivers exactly what it promises with its goofy title. When you go into something like “Avatar” or “The White Ribbon,” you may not know what to expect, but there’s no surprise when a film calls itself “Hot Tub Time Machine.” It’s not a perfect comedy but it’s a heck of a lot closer than most of its recent genre peers and should satisfy those wanting to take an HD dip.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

A parody and ode to ’80s pop culture, “Hot Tub Time Machine” is reminiscent of comedies of a quarter-century ago like “Weird Science” or “Better Off Dead” with stars of the period like John Cusack, Chevy Case, and Crispin Glover, a soundtrack that uses Motley Crue liberally, and a goofy tone that was more common in the era of the brat pack. In other words, it’s a great rental for anyone who watched every episode of “I Love the ’80s” or still have a Cutting Crew t-shirt buried deep in their closet.

Hot Tub Time Machine was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 29th, 2010
Hot Tub Time Machine was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 29th, 2010
Photo credit: MGM

Director Steve Pink (who wrote “Grosse Pointe Blank” and “High Fidelity”) reunites with star John Cusack as the pretty egocentric Adam, a guy whose girlfriend just left him and took the flat-screen TV but left his nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) in the basement. Adam used to be close with a slob named Lou (Rob Corddry), described even by those close to him as an a-hole. When Lou tries to kill himself, Adam, Jacob, and another long-lost friend named Nick (Craig Robinson) race off to Kodiak Valley ski lodge for a wild weekend. It turns out that the last quarter-century hasn’t been kind to the site of Winterfest ‘86 (featuring Poison!). The gang ends up getting wasted in their patio hot tub and, well, the title becomes important.

Hot Tub Time Machine was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 29th, 2010
Hot Tub Time Machine was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 29th, 2010
Photo credit: MGM

The majority of “Hot Tub Time Machine” consists of the quartet working their way through the activities of their youth in a “Back to the Future”-esque way that stops the “Butterfly Effect” from kicking in and destroying the future. That means that Adam has to break up with his mega-hot girlfriend again, Nick has to bang a groupie again despite his guilt due to him now being married, and Lou has to get his ass kicked by some bullies…twice. Jacob is pretty much there just to make sure they don’t destroy the future or he won’t exist. Glover plays a bellhop with one arm in 2010 and two in 1986, leading to a number of near-miss jokes, Chase appears as a hot tub repairman with all the answers, and Lizzy Caplan popps up as a girl that draws Adam’s attention in a way that makes him realize he can still make choices of his own.

With a “Hangover”-esque dose of scenes of men behaving badly and more gross-out humor than most “American Pie” sequels, “Hot Tub Time Machine” is definitely not for everyone, but there’s a humanity to Pink’s work that elevates it. How many 40-somethings wouldn’t love to go back to when they were 19 or 20 and thought they were on top of the world in every single way? The draw of “Hot Tub Time Machine” is in the promise it offers to not just relive history but rewrite it. Not only could you feel young again but you could correct the mistakes. Pink cleverly plays with the common problems of middle-age men — commitment, infidelity, loneliness — by putting them back in an era when none of that stuff mattered.

Most importantly, “Hot Tub Time Machine” is quite funny, briskly paced, and consistently enjoyable. The film spins its wheels a bit after the gang lands in 1986 and I wish it had one more clever twist or turn to elevate the entire piece but this trip works. Instead of just coming out exhausted, hungover, and wrinkled, this trip through the “Hot Tub Time Machine” actually leaves the audience refreshed.

The Blu-ray release of “Hot Tub Time Machine” includes an unrated version that I couldn’t distinguish from the theatrical and a few brief special features. As for technical specs, the HD picture and sound are adequate without being too memorable. They don’t distract from the comedy hijinks but it’s not a particularly notable transfer.

Special Features:
o Production: Acting Like Idiots
o Chevy Chase: The Nicest Guy in Hollywood
o Totally Radical Outfits: Dayna Pink
o Crispin Glover: One-Armed Bell Hop
o Deleted Scenes
o Theatrical Trailer

“Hot Tub Time Machine” stars John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, Crispin Glover, Lizzy Caplan, and Chevy Chase. It was written by Steve Pink and Sean Anders & John Morris and directed by Steve Pink. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 29th, 2010 and is unrated or rated R.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Anonymous's picture

Spa Pumps

Hot Tub Time Machine….terrible title; funny movie. I Really Like this movie.

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