Craig Robinson is a comic genius. If you are not familiar with him, he plays Darryl on “The Office” and played a thug enforcer in Pineapple Express. He has all the choice lines in this movie, and manages to deliver them without cracking a tiny grin. Compared to him, deadpan is giddy. If there was a word to describe him, it would be “I ain’t messin’ around with your stupid ass”. This guy can make any combination of words a laugh riot, much the same way Barry White can make anything sound sexual. His best line of the movie is the title.
Starring: John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, Chevy Chase, Crispin Glover
Directed by: Steve Pink
Written by: Josh Heald and Jarrad Paul
Hot Tub Time Machine is about nothing, and succeeds wildly at it. I laughed a lot and enjoyed it pretty thoroughly. It has clever dialogue, great comic timing, and non-stop punchlines. The style is original – similar to the Hangover – but younger and a little more genuine. That being said, at no time is this a quality film. The story is ludicrous and yet formulaic at the same time. All in all, I would say that averages out to a pretty good rental. But if you are hard up for laughs and have ten bucks to burn – by all means.
A group of guys in their early forties are generally disappointed with their squandered lives. Lloyd Dobler – excuse me I mean – John Cusack stars as Adam, a lonely washed-up professional of some sort, whose ex-girlfriend just cleared out half the house. Nick (Craig Robinson) has no direction and handles the sort of tasks that dog groomers dread the most. Jacob (Clark Duke), Adam’s 20 year old nephew of unknown origins, lives in the basement, and has an online simulated life that is even more hopeless than his real one. And finally, there’s Lou (Rob Corddry), who gives pathetic not only a new meaning, but several synonyms and a front page Wikipedia listing. The story is set in motion one night when he has what he says is “not” a suicide attempt, prompting his old but distant friends (Nick and Adam) to come to the rescue. To cheer him up, they decide to revisit their old stomping grounds, the wild party/ski town of Kodiak Valley. Jacob comes with, much to Lou’s chagrin.
Next thing you know, they hop in a hot tub and it’s 1986. There are some other scenes before that, but nothing significant. First, they have to realize its 1986 – several clues pop out to indicate this (leg-warmers, neon clothes, Reagan talking live on TV, no snowboards, signs everywhere that say 1986, “Where’s the Beef”) – but when Nick sees a cassette player, he realizes something is up. Next, they have to spend a minute or two debating how or why this happened, then they realize their hot tub was probably a time machine, and all is well in the universe. Really. That’s about how scientific this got.
Now that they are there, they do everything they can to avoid disrupting the timeline – most likely because they have all seen several movies and know this is their “duty”. Adam has to break up with his high-school hottie, because that’s how it originally went down. Nick has to play a gig with his cover band. Lou has to get beat up by the local ski patrol bully. After a while though, they start to realize the timeline hasn’t really been all that good to them in the first place, and perhaps some changes are advisable.
What follows? An hour of hilarity. Awkward sexual encounters, slapstick, Poison. Anachronistic references (“what’s an e-mail?”), blowjob humor. What you think this movie is going to be – yeah – it is. The 80’s are a hoot. Being young is a blast. And life has a tendency to let us down – that’s a fact – so where other stories might try to go “Wonderful Life” on you,
this one tells the truth – we all could have made better choices and had happier lives at some point. The fact is, we all would do a better job if we had it do over again.
This was a story that made me feel good; not because it made me appreciate what I have, but because it validated my view of the world. If you are cynical, anarcho-capitalist-libertarian, pleasure-seeking, and intuitive, the story will delight you. If you are judgmental and stricken with Catholic guilt, this film will seem incomplete at best and most likely absurd. For everyone else – it’s funny and stupid and then funny some more. Watch it, but just don’t have high expectations.