Monday, March 29, 2010

Movie Review: Hot Tub Time Machine

I see that Hot Tub Time Machine was used as frequently as a real hot tub with a band-aid floating in it. That's kind of too bad. I mean, it's not HILARIOUS, but it's funny with a lowercase f. I mean, America hoisted Alice in Wonderland up on its shoulders as though it were some kind of cinematic milestone, you think they'd at least have no problem checking out something passably funny. Oh well, here's my review:

Chunks Blown, Blow Snorted
Hot Tub Time Machine is raunch for raunch’s sake

Compared with director Steve Pink’s Hot Tub Time Machine, Joe Biden’s recent F-bomb was deployed with the grace of Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing on the head of a pin. Its grammatical diversity on full display, the F-word is no mere extravagance. Remove it, and characters are reduced to articles and conjunctions; they’d be left asking, “the and?” Josh Heald, Sean Anders and John Morris birthed a simplistic, goofy script and slapped it with raunchy until it sounded like a sailor and smelled like a crack house bathroom. Why? Because filth is the new king of comedy; sorry, Jerry Lewis.

Although the title is nearly a complete synopsis, here goes: estranged friends Adam (John Cusack) and Nick (Craig Robinson) are compelled to care for their former friend and current douche Lou (Rob Corddry) after he passively attempts suicide while listening to Mötley Crüe…which is understandable. Their solution is to take everyone, including Adam’s nephew Jacob (Clark Duke), and head to the ski lodge they loved in their teenage years. Then they climb into a hot tub time machine. The end.

Fine. Slightly more happens, although it is slight. Once in the 80s, the group bickers about the butterfly effect—the movie and the phenomenon—and do a Lohan-esque amount of drinking and drug consumption. Adam meets a potential love (Lizzy Caplan), Nick gets to sing again and Lou alternates between showing his ass and getting it kicked. It’s all inconsequential…other than waiting to see how Phil (Crispin Glover), who is a one-armed bellhop in the present day, loses his appendage.

Any movie that employs used-up Chevy Chase as the deus ex machina isn’t overly concerned about plot. What matters is laughs, and there is a sufficient amount…not an exceeding amount, but a sufficient amount. Cusack’s humor comes from our nostalgia for his 80s career, Robinson’s comes from his brilliant dead pan and Corddry’s comes from his reckless abandon. He brings bravado to every scene, from puking on a squirrel to fathering a child. What Zach Galifianakis was to The Hangover, Corddry is here.

Hot Tub Time Machine’s biggest sin isn’t its incessant sinning, it’s the jokes left on the sticky floor. The 80s get off light, as do most time-travel pop culture references. If it had kept the frat-house feel without feeling like it was written after a bender in a frat house, it could have been more than just dirty fun.

Grade = B-

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