John Cusack accidentally floats back to the 80s in the new sci-fi comedy, Hot Tub Time Machine. In order to return, he must do precisely what he did 24 years ago. Nothing more, nothing less. No playing the lottery. No getting in on the ground floor of Google. No finding your college self and talking it out of an English major. Yea, I know. Then what’s the point of a time machine?
Looking for a morale boost after a personal tragedy nearly befalls one of them, Adam (Cusack) and his two best buddies head to a ski resort where the trio once had the time of their lives. What they find is that the years have been even less kind to the Kodiak Valley lodge than they have to their own unfulfilled selves. Reluctantly, they take to the hot tub, but when one of them accidentally spills a contraband Russian energy drink (“Chernobyl”) on the controls, the mysterious liquid reacts with the tub’s electronics and transports the group back to 1986.
To return, they merely have to bide their time while a quirky repairman (Chevy Chase) fixes the glitch. Meanwhile, to avoid the potentially catastrophic consequences of the “butterfly effect,” they must to do everything they did that original weekend. That means they must break-up, get beat-up, and screw-up all over again. To do otherwise might jeopardize the misery that the future holds for them. As if!
Back to the Future meets The Hangover in this contrived waste of John Cusack’s talent that nervously oscillates between hysterical and now-they’ve-gone-too-far. Craig Robinson (TV’s “The Office”) and Chevy Chase costar, the latter as the mysterious repairman who fills-in all of the blanks for the confused time-travelers. (Why do the worst films need such a character: Christopher Walken in the Adam Sandler fiasco Click, George Carlin in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure?) Rob Corddry (Old School) as the unstable and unpredictable friend Lou, is the most entertaining though Crispin Glover’s one-armed bellhop, Phil, is the one to watch. He’s comically bizarre, yes, but astute moviegoers who better remember Glover as George McFly will be on the lookout for a random DeLorean fly-by. Spoiler alert: it never happens, but it would have been cool.
Hot Tub Time Machine is not clever but it has its moments, none of which are politically correct. That’s OK. It’s still entertaining, but just to be on the safe side, go in with low expectations and you won’t be disappointed. That worked for me.
MPAA Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language.
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