Written by Josh Heald and Sean Anders & John Morris
Directed by Steve Pink
Running Time: 1:40
Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language.
Hot Tub Time Machine was one of those movies that had a lot of potential, but beyond a few funny moments, felt rather flat.
3 former best friends, and one of their nephews, head up to an old ski resort to get away for a week. The ski resort, circa 2010, has completely fallen into ruin. Determined to try and have a good time, they spot a mysterious hot tub in the back of their hotel room. And after a night of drinking in said hot tub, they wake up to find themselves in 1986. Not only are they in 1986, they're themselves in 1986, complete with high-top fades and dorky clothing. Except for the nephew who wasn't born yet in 1986, so he just keeps flickering in and out of existence. Thinking back to their knowledge of sci-fi movies, they realize that they must do exactly what they did back in 1986 or the future will change. That of course, is easier said than done.
The previews for Hot Tub Time Machine made me think this had a chance of being a rather funny movie. But other than some moments here and there, the movie was kind of lame. First the good. I don't know what it says about me, but the most hysterical moments were the R-rated kind. I won't go into detail, but once you see the movie, you'll understand - the dog who ate keys, the squirrel, the hand soap and the lost football bet (technically the same running joke I guess). Those four scenes were pretty damn funny. But the rest of the movie? Really hit or miss. It's like the screenwriters came up with these funny scenes, then threw the rest of the movie together as really long filler. For one, there was virtually no point to the movie. I mean, was the entire movie really about 3 friends who lost touch, needing to come back together? Did they need some strange guy (played by Chevy Chase in a role that wasn't remotely funny) sending them back to 1986 to teach them a lesson about friendship? Because frankly, I'm not sure they cared all that much. Even in 1986 they all went their separate ways until the very end when they figured out how to get back home.
None of the characters were especially likeable. John Cusack played a guy whose girlfriend just left him, and he has his nephew living in his basement. There was nothing about him that made me think, hey, he's a nice guy. His 'job' back in 1986 was to break up with the love of his life. He kept putting it off and putting it off and it took him meeting some other random girl to realize that his friends were important to him. It was an odd story line. Craig Robinson plays a guy whose wife cheated on him (although she doesn't know that he knows) and who works for a dog store instead of living out his dream to become a singer. His 'job' in 1986 was to sleep with a groupie and sing with his band. He was probably the most likeable character, but still kind of annoying. Speaking of annoying, Rob Corddry played a guy who tried to kill himself, leading to all these guys getting together in the first place. Talk about an ass. There was absolutely nothing likeable about him. His 'job' in 1986 was to get his ass kicked by some guys on ski patrol. Then there was the nephew, played by Clark Duke, who is a nerd personified. He spends all his days playing Second Life, even though his character in the game is in jail and doesn't do anything. In 1986 his job was to try and get the others to do their jobs so they could all get home. His story went nowhere and had no effect on the movie.
Am I taking this movie too seriously? Yeah, probably. But even as a don't-think-about-it movie, it wasn't nearly as funny as it could have been. If you don't like the characters, it doesn't really matter what they do because you don't really care. I think a little more effort put into the story, giving them a real reason to go back in time, would have helped. More humor would have helped. There was this running joke about a character who loses an arm that was a little funny, but also rather morbid. Now, I like morbid so I appreciated it, but I'm not sure a lot of others will. But out of 100 minutes, I'd say maybe 5-10 were funny with the rest just being weird.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I thought Hot Tub Time Machine had a chance to be really funny. Instead, it had moments of hilarity, but a lot more moments of nothing. It's worth a rental I suppose, but not theater prices.