April 8, 2010

Just Some Guys, Drinks and a Hot Tub

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“Dear Hot Tub Time Machine,I love you. I loved you at first sight, when I saw your name pop up a few months ago and thought you were a beautiful joke. I loved you during what may have been the most amazing hour and forty minutes of my life. I love you now, thirty minutes after it ended. I love you so much, I may go see you again tomorrow, when we can make sweet, sweet love and little baby hot tub time machines to go along with yourself.” I wrote that immediately after I saw the aforementioned a week ago. In retrospect, they may seem like strong words, especially regarding a movie about three friends and a nerdy chubby teen who hop into a hot tub and spin back in time to the ’80s. But my one-week ago self knew what she was talking about. Surprising, because movies with such spot on names rarely follow through on their promise: Snakes on a Plane is only fun in certain contexts, Kick Ass just didn’t bring the funny yet delinquent superheroes in the way that No Heroics does and Bitch Slap isn’t worth seeing — there’s no way it can deliver.Hot Tub Time Machine is about John Cusack playing John Cusack — the casting for a movie about the ’80s, nostalgia and that eager ’80s tone of Brat Pack/ Say Anything movies couldn’t have been any better — but now grown up, angry and tired. His woman’s bounced, his nephew Jacob (played picture perfect by Clark Duke) won’t leave his basement and seems content to play World of Warcraft for the rest of his life. At the same time, his two best friends from college are Nick (Craig Robinson, Darryl from The Office), a cuckhold (bro speak would call him pussy-whipped) whose musical dreams died and now works in a dog wash shop, and Lou (Rob Corddry), a perpetual fuck up who none of them want to talk to anymore. An almost-tragedy brings the three back together, and in order to keep an eye on Lou, they take off for their former swinging skiing spot, a whining Jacob in tow.But the ski resort, like their lives, has fallen into disrepair. And then they meet the hot tub time machine, and reality decides to peace for the rest of the movie.It’s been said already, but the relief and fun of HTTM is that, like its title, there’s no beating round the proverbial bush. Here is the hot tub. Guess what, Red Bull (Chernobyl) is made out of uranium, and may have time-bending affects! And … now we are back in time. Never in the movie do they try to explain it away, or deal with the science fiction at all: It and Chevy Chase are just there. Self-parody isn’t new to the genre, and writers Sean Anders and Josh Heald do well to not fall into its trap too much, and the script was wittier, and warmer, than The Hangover was. It’s because the story is actually about something. I loved The Hangover, but its strength was in one-upping itself with ridiculous thing after ridiculous thing. HTTM’s strength was in knowing, and loving, its context — the ’80s references are not references so much as a well defined world — and its theme: That middle-aged, end of the line, men desire for a do over. So yes, I can’t actually make babies with a hot tub-cum-time machine. Nor would I actually want to. But if I could, I would travel back in time a week and high five myself for having the foresight to go see the movie.And then go see it again.

4 Towers

Original Author: Julie Block