There is an old adage that states you should never judge a book by its cover. Films are largely the same deal. You should never judge a film by its ridiculous title and does Hot Tub Time Machine ever have a ridiculous title. It also has a ridiculous premise which generally is not a good thing but in the case of this new John Cusack comedy it works perfectly. That is not to say that Hot Tub Time Machine is an exceptionally good film, it has plenty of problems but it has a charm and style that makes it work for what it is, a corny buddy comedy set in the 80s.
Let us get one thing straight here, I love the 80s. I love the music, I love the movies, I love the tight neon colored spandex. I love the big poofy hair. I love the unbridled approach to living that seemed to follow the motto of sex, drugs and rock and roll. So with that all said, if you do not love the 80s, turn back now because Hot Tub Time Machine is not for you. It is for people like me who grew up in the 80s and still look back on it as the best time in our lifetimes.
Hot Tub Time Machine stars John Cusack as Adam, a down on his luck insurance salesman, Craig Robinson as Nick, a depressed dog trainer, and Rob Corddry as their drunk loser friend, Lou. Years ago all three of them were the tightest of friends but adulthood has driven them apart. After Lou attempts to commit suicide Adam and Nick decide to take Lou and Adam’s nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) on a road trip to a place from their past, Kodiak Valley Ski Resort. Much like the threesome’s friendship, Kodiak Valley has seen better days and the trip to Kodiak Valley looks to have been a bad idea until some magic happens and the hot tub outside their room turns on. The four pile into the hot tub and after a night of partying wake up in 1986.
Obviously a little unsettled by the events the four decide that the three friends need to relive the events of the past so they can get back home in one piece, specifically Jacob who has yet to be conceived (which is a mildly funny subplot). As the film progresses the three deals with the primary question of if we could go back in time and do it over again, would we do it differently. The antics that happen are amusing and the dialog is at times golden but sadly the pacing and characterizations are a bit off and at times I found myself waiting for the next joke instead of caring about the plot.
The primary problem with the film, despite John Cusack being a charismatic individual, is that Adam is not a very likable character. Honestly I think the film was deliberately designed this way though, as one of the main themes is friends growing apart and how to mend those relationships. However unlike in most films where the main character finds something in himself that helps redeem his character and help save the day, I never felt as if Adam found that something and he certainly does not save the day.
Hot Tub Time Machine touches all its bases. It features some good performances from its leads, has an excellent soundtrack and is generally enjoyable throughout but it just fails to knock itself out of the park. If you love the 80s though, this is definitely one to give a go as a lot of it will bring a smile to your face.
3 out of 5