Hot Tub Time Machine

By Hot Tub Time Machine, Fair Use

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Time travel films are usually played straight, even if they are comedies. They have rules, explanations, and justification for their own existence. Hot Tub Time Machine throws all that out of the window and just goes with what seems to be a four-word elevator pitch that somehow got funding, actors, and yet remained as the title of the film. It is, in essence, what it sounds like: Hot Tub Time Machine.

The four misanthropes who end up in the titular hot tub are three childhood friends looking to relive their glory days, and a rogue nephew. Rob Corddry’s waster is depressed and struggling, so his equally unsatisfied best friends (played by John Cusack and Craig Robinson) take him to the ski resort where they all partied in the 1980s. Cusack’s nephew, a nerdy Clark Duke, joins them, and after they spill some energy drink on the hot tub electronics, they are sent back in time to inhabit their younger bodies in 1986.

There are plenty of retro jokes, plus an odd variance where Duke’s character sometimes disappears as he is existing before he was born. Chevy Chase bizarrely shows up as a hot tub repair worker, who insinuates that to return to the present they must repeat the same experience, but the energy drink has been taken by some jock kids who believe the time-travellers to be Russian spies. It all gets very silly, as expected from a film titled Hot Tub Time Machine.

Director Steve Pink doesn’t do anything incredible or sublime but is a steady hand and shows a good understanding of comic timing. It is not one of the great comedies of its year, nor is it a standout time-travel film. Even a cameo by Back to the Future’s Crispin Glover cannot save it, and nor can Lizzy Caplan’s underused appearance. Overall, the film is good enough to watch for a giggle, but it has a throwaway nature to it that makes it relatively forgettable.

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