Just like the big-haired, neon-colored, sex-and-coke-addled decade it ridicules/eulogizes, Hot Tub Time Machine is an unapologetic, raunchy good time. Never mind that the WTF title is as sophisticated as Snakes on a Plane—that’s actually part of the charm. Go with the absurdity and it’ll be as good a time as The Hangover.
The action centers on four forty-somethings whose lives haven’t exactly turned out as they’d like: Adam (John Cusack) is a self-involved emotionally blank insurance salesman whose girlfriend just dumped him; Nick (Craig Robinson) is a defeated dog groomer who gave up his music career for his cheating wife; Lou (Rob Corddry) is an obnoxious teenage party boy stuck inside an alcoholic’s body. When Lou ends up in the hospital after an apparent suicide attempt, the four—Adam’s pudgy computer-addicted geek nephew (Clark Duke) in tow—decide to return to a ski town where they spent an epic weekend in 1986.
Enter the titular hot tub, which, thanks to an energy drink accidentally spilled on its controls, sends the foursome back to that key weekend in ‘86. There, they have the chance to change the course of their lives and the filmmakers have a big old excuse to throw us back to a time when Ronald Reagan, Cold War hysteria, ALF—and come to think of it, John Cusack himself—ruled.
This may be the only movie that puts Corddry’s grating comic persona to effective use; and as the Second-Life-playing, text-addicted teen lost in a time where people actually talk to each other, Duke provides the deadpan humor. Yeah, some of the movie is half-baked, like a running gag involving a squirrel, and some of it falls flat, like a dour Chevy Chase as the group’s elusive time-travel guide. And yeah, the end is weirdly conventional for this movie and doesn’t quite work. But the rest of it mostly does.
Hot Tub Time Machine hits theatres nationwide this Fri. March 26th.