Finally! Finally a movie that lives up to the awesomeness of its title! Having been seriously disappointed by awesomely titled films such as Snakes on a Plane and The Men Who Stare at Goats, I needed the redemption that only a film with a title like Hot Tub Time Machine can give. So, yes, I paid money and went and saw Hot Tub Time Machine in the theatre. Here’s the thing though: not only did it live up to its great title, Hot Tub Time Machine may be the best comedy I’ve seen in the last year.
The movie’s plot is pretty much explained by the title. After a friend’s failed suicide attempt, his friends take him back to the ski lodge where they had their heyday of partying and magic in 1985. They find the lodge dilapidated and pathetic, much as their own lives have become, until they get in their suite’s hot tub and are magically sucked back into 1985. At no point does the movie ever try to explain why (the closest it comes is a cryptic hot tub repair machine man played to perfection by Chevy Chase), and the characters fight between each other as to whether they should use this second chance to change their futures, but they’re also all geek enough to have arguments over the effects this may have on the time/space continuum. Screw it, basically the movie is Back to the Future but with a hard R. It’s crude, it’s foul, and it’s unrelentingly funny. Comedies can frequently have lapses and long stretches of dry spots, but Hot Tub kept me laughing the entire film, sometimes so hard I thought I’d cry.
If you lived through the 80’s, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the humor to an even greater extent, but the film’s heart is the friends who have drifted apart realizing that they were really happiest when they were hanging out together, screwing with each other, and an active part of each others lives. Through all the absurdity, the movie has a soul (albeit a twisted one) and leaves you smiling at the character’s fates. John Cusack is outstanding as a sort of black comedy version of himself in all those 80’s films he did. Craig Robinson shines given more to do than he ever is on The Office. Crispin Glover also has a small and hysterical role that delivers maybe the film’s funniest moment.
Writing a good absurdist comedy is as hard a thing as there is to do in film, and Hot Tub delivers. It’s not for everyone, but if you’ve got a twisted sense of humor, a group of good friends, and recall how surreal the 80s were, Hot Tub is just the movie for you.