With flashback movies, they can be a hit and miss scenarios. It could be because that the cast doesn’t gel well together, or the storyline comes up as something that was made up after a night on the turps, and writing a movie wishing you could relive your childhood from the 1980s. In this case, get a well known actor from the 80s (John Cusack) who is still well known now, followed by comic relief (Rob Corddry) a token black guy who can single-handedly back up evidence they are in the 80s (Craig Robinson), and a young up-and-coming star (Clark Duke) who has starred in a few Generation Y films (Superbad, Sex Drive) and can get that younger audience to watch the film in which they were babies, or weren’t even born near that era.
Bring in a veteran comic (Chevy Chase) who appears in wasted cameos, and you have yourself Hot Tub Time Machine.
In current day 2010, Adam (Cusack) has just gone through a breakup, while his nephew Jacob (Duke) lives in his basement, playing Second Life most of the time. Nick (Robinson) hates his dog-caring job, while consciously knowing his wife isn’t as faithful as he realises. Bring in Lou (Corddry), an energetic, alcoholic, rule breaking ‘violator’, accidentally nearly kills himself after a drive out on the booze. After being hospitalised, Adam and Nick take Lou to the Kodiak Ski Resort, to live like younger times in1986. Jacob, tags along for the ride, even though he’s had a falling out with Lou over something which isn’t explained.
Upon arriving to a run-down, cat / rat / bird infested resort, the guys rent out their old room and get drunk in the hot tub. After some nasty faulty wiring caused by an illegal Russian energy drink, the hot tub sends them back to 1986. A year where their lives went from great, to absolute shit. We all see them as their old selves, but the world of 1986 see them as their 1986 selves. Upon discovering they went back in time, a mysterious repairman (Chase) chimes in at nearly the right time, giving them cryptic clues about what they can and cannot do in 1986. (Think of The Simpsons Halloween episode where Homer goes into the past with the toaster, and Grampa giving him advice). They all try and stick to their natural paths whether they like it or not, but never 100% complete them. Everything falls apart from there.
The film does explore the characters lives up to the life changing points, however, it didn’t seem there was enough detail to convince that they were in 1986. With only some clothing changes and a soundtrack that went up to 1986, the story had them stuck in the resort, which not much exploration outside the area. Cusack held the crew together, with Robinson there just to prove they were in 1986 with his afro. However, Corddry felt like he was the only one out of place, with his overacting and hyperactivity. I guess it was done to make the other guys more stable and mental.
With a funny cameo by Crispin Glover (yes, there’s a Back To The Future reference, but not directed at him), and the gorgeous Lizzy Caplan, as the cute love interest, Hot Tub Time Machine is entertaining to watch with your leg-warmers and Choose Life t-shirts on. Just don’t blame me if you end up dusting off your Poison soundtrack afterwards.