Hot Tub Time Machine (New Movie Review)
Hot Tub Time Machine (Steve Pink, 2010) – Despite what Kevin Smith would have you believe, there is a difference between a good stupid movie and a bad one. The good kind will make you laugh hard with offensive jokes; the bad kind will offend your sensibility with boring characters, too much plot, or, at their worst, a knee-jerk conservative ดูหนังใหม่
preachiness that sometimes creeps into raunchy comedies toward the end. When you go to a stupid movie, you should prime yourself to just go with the flow, not think too hard and get in the mood to laugh, but if the jokes don’t hit, or if the movie gets bogged down in pointless plot machinations, the experience can leave you offended in the wrong way. Hot Tub Time Machine, with its premise of four guys being transported back to the 80’s after a night of drinking in a hot tub with magical powers, seemed like it could have had the right balance of clever pop culture references and talented comedic actors willing to humiliate themselves to be a good stupid movie. I was mostly right.
John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, and a memorable Rob Corddry star as Adam, Jacob, Nick and Lou, the reluctant hot tub time-travelers. Adam has recently separated from his wife, who apparently made him miserable in the later years, as we see him wander through his newly emptied apartment while listening to a message from his ex explaining what she took and why in a very funny and effective opening scene. Adam wanders down to the basement where his sarcastic lazy nephew Jacob plays Second Life as a character doing time in jail. Nick is bored at his dog-training job and frustrated by his juvenile and untrustworthy friends. The only thing he looks forward to anymore is seeing his wife at the end of the day. Lou has neither wife nor ex-wife, and we first meet him pulling into his garage as he rocks out to Poison while drinking vodka and Redbull, not mixed, but one swig after another, a neat trick while simultaneously lip-syncing, revving your engine, and air drumming the cheesy hair-metal pop perfectly. This lands Lou in the hospital due to carbon monoxide poisoning, which the doctors assume was a suicide attempt. As therapy his friends take him to a ski resort that once provided these men with their best adolescent memories. Soon they hit the hot tub and the booze and wake up in 1986, as their actual adolescent selves from the past.
The film doesn’t get as much mileage out of the nostalgic referencing of 80’s pop culture as I had hoped, but it does a lot with time-machine cliches in movies. Much is made of the butterfly effect (“I love that movie!” one character exclaims – one of a number of well-timed references to awful movies). The character of Jacob, who wasn’t born yet in 1986 and therefore is very much concerned about altering the timeline, phases in and out of existence, a clear reference to Michael J. Fox in that Polaroid photograph in Back to the Future. The casting of Crispin Glover as the hotel bellhop also references the classic time-travel movie from 1985. Several good bits ensue of the men reliving past humiliations because they don’t want Jacob to disappear forever, despite being radically different people who earnestly want to make better choices in adolescence the second time around. Soon, however, they stop worrying and start thinking about how to benefit from the experience (“We could invent Zac Efron!” Lou realizes.).
One of the best jokes in the film is a running gag about Glover’s character’s arm being chopped off. When we meet him in 2010, he has one arm and is a miserable prick. However, in 1986 we find that he’s very friendly and has both his arms. Over and over the guys watch as Glover looks as if he’s about to lose his arm in one ridiculous scenario after another, and Lou cheers for it to happen, only to be disappointed as each time Glover escapes unscathed, and blissfully unaware of his predestination. The “suspense” builds for Lou and us as we anticipate how exactly the limb gets severed. Funny stuff.
Soon, a girl walks into Adam’s life, giving him a second chance at a happy marriage. She is such a one-dimensional and unconsidered part that one could say it’s a huge step backward for roles for women. The film doesn’t bother to make her anything more than a symbol, legs metaphorically spread, giving sage advice to our male lead while patiently waiting around for him to get over his phobias and make a decision. It’s a throwaway plotline, dragging the rest of the movie down. The sooner we’re done with these scenes the better, and they are mercifully short. The film is decidedly made by, for and about men, and so the lack of any serious consideration of a female point of view is not really a surprise.
There are some serious matters at hand here, and they’re handled in a way that isn’t preachy and doesn’t interfere with the comedy. The movie is really about how one lets his closest friends down consistently through selfish behavior, and about aging’s negative effects on one’s social life causing overdependence on committed relationships that often turn out to be not as loving as you originally hoped. Lou’s desperate antics manage to be both outrageously funny and still very much credible as the manic energy of a man trying desperately to stay one step ahead of his anxieties, and I mean that as a big compliment to Corddry, who is the heart and soul of this film. He sells the genuine desperation of his character in a way that Cusack doesn’t even attempt. (Cusack sleepwalks through the picture, as he’s been doing for years now.) The movie has a whitewash happy ending, which is both consistent with its genre but also necessary as a tonic for the depressing implications of its more serious undertones. In the end, it locates a justification and a place for these kinds of movies, because adult life can be painful and we need larger-than-life delusions to help keep us sane. Remaking your present by changing the mistakes you made in the past is exactly the kind of fantasy that can provide such relief, so let us (men) take the bait and revel in it.