Saturday, April 10, 2010

“Hot Tub Time Machine” – How did this movie not suck?

I am completely confused by “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Any movie whose title contains the phrase “Hot Tub” should suck or be porn. As a matter of fact, when my friends first told me about this movie, I thought it was porn. They said, “No. It’s a real movie. Seriously.” Then, they cued up the preview and there was John Cusack in a hot tub with three other guys. I thought either this is a real movie or John Cusack’s career has sunk to gay porn. Either way, this seemed like punishment for him being in “2012.”

Even more confusing, my wife wanted to see it. Ummm…what the hell is going on here? This is the same woman who has been listening to Nicholas Sparks books on tape and devoured the “Twilight” series like a thirteen year-old. If my life depended on it, I could not have told you what she saw in the preview that made her want to see a film about four guys who time-travel to 1986 in a hot tub. I don’t even know why I wanted to see it. The only thing I can think of is sheer curiosity. How does John Cusack agree to star in a film called “Hot Tub Time Machine?”

Normally, this is the type of movie that I would slow roast with a blow torch. It has a stupid title, a ridiculous premise, practically zero plot, and over-the-top acting. Plus, even though it’s rated R and is based on a hot tub, there is almost no nudity. We only get a few seconds of one pair of breasts and several shots of Rob Corddry’s ass. Again, how could this movie possibly be any good or even mildly entertaining?

The most important contributor to its success is that everyone expected it to suck. When everyone already has low expectations, there’s no way to be disappointed. Once this had been established, all they had to do was not take themselves too seriously or go over the top. The serious part was easy, but they came dangerously close on the other part, especially with Corddry. He was very close to Will Ferrell territory and that’s not a good thing. On top of this, they decided to give Chevy Chase the part of hot tub maintenance guy. Other than the lack of nudity, this is the only other part that truly did suck. He appears at random times throughout the film, muttering about not changing the timeline and how to fix the hot tub. Unless I missed it, they don’t get him any homages to his roles from the eighties. Was it really too much to ask for a “Caddyshack” or “Vacation” reference? Since they decided to waste this opportunity, they should have just scrapped the role and had the dorky kid figure all that out. It would have saved Chase the embarrassment of being the only non-funny part of the film.

As I said, they didn’t take themselves too seriously and decided that they weren’t going to care about the timeline. This actually made the film fun, as the characters stop caring what’s going to happen if they do things differently. In fact, the only person that does care is the kid because if they change things too much he won’t be born.

The other fun thing about the movie are all of the references to eighties movies (sorry Chevy Chase). Unfortunately, this is only good for people over the age of 30. There might be a few people under that age that get the jokes, but most of them will just have confused looks on their faces. Especially when they realize they don’t get to see a lot of boobies.

Rating: If you’re over the age of 30, tell the manager: “I want my two dollars.” If you don’t know what that means, go watch some eighties movies.

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