Wow, did I just completely throw away my youth? I mean, I had fun and everything…but what about all the shitty decisions I made? The friend I screwed over? The one that got away? All the times I took the easy way out…and how would my life be now if I had the opportunity to do it all over? These are the questions asked of us and our main characters in the straight forwardly titled and beautifully executed film, Hot Tub Time Machine, a midlife crisis movie teaming with raunchy laughs, 80’s nostalgia, amputations and a surprising amount of heart.
Our story begins with Nick (Craig Robinson) digging his fingers into a dog’s sphincter to diagnose a butt itching problem at the posh animal spa he’s employed at. We are then introduced to Adam (John Cusack) who’s girlfriend just ditched him and is living a soulless, self centered existence despite having found wealth in his professional life. Also living with Adam is his nephew, Jacob ( Clark Duke) who spends his days playing Second Life in Adam’s basement but is otherwise aimless. But the ultimate screw up in our band of heroes is Lou (Rob Corddry, finally finding a role he can sink his teeth into) who is hospitalized after nearly asphyxiating himself in his garage while sitting in his running car and singing along to Motley Crue’s Home Sweet Home.
Upon hearing the news Adam and Nick arrive at the hospital to check on their old friend. The doctors are afraid it might have been a suicide attempt, although Lou adamantly denis it, and recommend that the old friends spend the weekend together in order to keep an eye on Lou to make sure he’s okay.
Our three friends bring along Jacob and head out to their old stomping ground a once prosperous ski resort town. Once they arrive in the hotel where they lived some of the greatest moments of their youths, the immediately realize the place stands a a metaphor for their lives, it’s run down, smelly, tired old wreck. They check into their suite where the commence a sad sausage fest game of quarters…in the face of such desperation the four stumble upon the impressive hot tub on their back porch. A hot tub time machine…
After a drunken night of male bonding our guys wake up in 1986. The exact year when Adam, Lou and Nick vacationed there and made decisions that would shape all their lives forever. And Jacob? Well, he didn’t yet exist…but that existence plays a crucial role here.
Hot Tub Time Machine isn’t the kind of film you pay to see expected anything besides vomit jokes, possibly some boobs, and good amount of belly laughs. I can report back that Hot Tub Time Machine delivers all of these and more in spades. But what I Wasn’t expecting was the amount of emotional weight the film managed to pack in amongst all the stabbings and awkward threesomes. The film is obvious wish fulfillment for all of us whose young and stupid years are slowly becoming prologue to a life that might not be exactly what we had in mind and our constant meditation is, “What could I have done differently?” It’s a bitter sweet theme dipped in pathos and capturing that often saddening thought that maybe our best years are behind us and just maybe we wasted them.
Through the portal of the Hot Tub Time Machine Adam is given a second chance with the one that got away after she stabbed him the eye with a fork, Nick has another shot at his music career that went bust after a performance at a bar at the ski resort, and Lou gets the opportunity to stand up to some ski instructors that kicked the shit out of him when his friends didn’t show up for the fight. While Jacob must get the Hot Tub time Machine up and running again so they can make their way home…if he can track down the magical Hot Tub repair man played by Chevy Chase in a bizarre cameo.
Speaking of cameos, and one that steals the entire show at that, is Crispin Glover who plays an disgruntled amputee bellhop in the present who lost his arm sometime in the winter of 86 when he was a happy-go-lucky bellhop eager to please the guests. His performance is hilarious and goofy in typical Crispin fashion and manages to generate some suspense as our main characters keep running into him in situations that could lead to him losing his appendage. This role could have been the stuff of general shrugs and disinterest in the hands of any other thespian but Crispin makes the role a stand out. Good work, sir.
Hot Tub Time Machine is nothing profound. It’s a damn good time and an excellent party movie. One that doesn’t get too caught up in all the science talk and ramifications of the time travel equations of which all their knowledge comes from films such as Back to the Future, The Butterfly Effect and The Terminator. They do change their fates and even the outcomes of several events oin 1986. Some deirectly…and some through a magic squirrel… The time travel aspect of the film is just the vehicle to bring us a great piece of trashy comedy about the importance of the relationships in our lives, those of our close friends and our family and these bonds are often more important than we can possibly fathom. The universe is ruled by chaos and we are at it’s mercy. We cannot always control who comes into our lives or what happens to them but we do have a choice in how we treat those we care about.
I’m not going to lie, Hot Tub Time Machine is funny as shit. But damn it if there weren’t a couple moments strewn through the proceedings were I got something in my eye. And I don’t mean jizz or vomit.
-The Primal Root