The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Hot Tub Time Machine

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Chick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-grey-smChick-O-Meter-grey-sm Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
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Hot Tub Time Machine

It IS what you think, with a gross factor thrown in that could easily rate the flick PV (for projectile vomit). The humor, however, transcends the barf-fest into true wise-crackery.

High school friends Adam (John Cusack), Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry) along with Adam’s tag-along nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) retreat to the hotspot of their youth, which turns out to be a very cold spot named Kodiak Lodge, a ski resort and past scene of several nostalgic debaucheries, fights, parties and general mischief.

The guys all bemoan their current statuses in life, from pet shop owner Nick to insurance salesman Adam to general screw-up Lou. Jacob is a chubby, intellectual dork, fodder for Lou’s snarky comments. Adam has just been dumped and Nick suspects he’s been cheated on by his wife. The four look forward to their getaway as an escape from the present, and surprise! that’s just what they get.

On their first night at the broken-down lodge the guys meet disgruntled, one-armed bell-hop Phil and take a booze-filled dive into the circular outd0or hot tub, partying until they pass out. When they awaken, everyone’s hair is big, crimped and head-banded. Legwarmers seem to be back in style. They find they have been transported via the hot tub to “gasp!” 1986 – pre-internet, pre-texting, pre-e-mail.

A hot tub repairman (Chevy Chase) is on the hunt for a missing part and the team has until dawn to return to the present or relive the horrors of the past twenty years all over again. Lou thinks he can make his knowledge of future events work for him, but doesn’t take into account “the butterfly effect” a phenomenon which dictates that even the smallest deviation from the past could result in tremendous repercussions in the future. Example: two people don’t accidentally meet at a certain time, and someone is not born as a result; or a donkey escapes from an Austrian farm and Hitler wins the war. That kind of thing.

With that hanging over them, the guys must follow their own footsteps in 80’s town or risk a radically changed future. Well some do just that, and others deviate from the plan. How it all works out will take you to the end of this particular adventure, which is a guilty pleasure, one that pokes fun of its characters and their childish, hedonistic, sometimes sexist behavior.

Don’t even think of looking for any female role models here. Every woman (except a reporter, absent most of the time) is a ditzy or crude sexual stereotype, total throwaways inserted for contrived foibles. Stick with the guys – they’re goofy enough, and they take their lumps for it without really needing any embellishments.

John Cusack brings his weary wisdom into the hijinx, a good counterbalance for Rob Corddry, who steals every scene as a manic self-destructive, bent on a good time if it kills him. Craig Robinson, cast here as the requisite “black friend” that a group of white guys must have to show that they are diverse, offers the chance for a character to say and do things that would not be possible otherwise and brings a different POV to the table in his interactions with the group. Clark Duke has got the pudgy fan-boy persona so nailed that for his sake I hope he changes his eyeglass frames soon or be typecast as a studious, sex-starved nerd for most of his career. That would be a shame for one so young, savvy and able to impart humor with only his appearance; when he opens his mouth, it just gets better.

Chevy Chase as the repair man looks as though he could use a time machine himself, and is inserted as a living blast from the past. Crispin Glover has a key role as the one-armed Phil and brings his usual macabre demeanor to a characterization that seems custom-made for him.

Director Steve Pink (Accepted) keeps the pace fast and the storylines concurrent. Every guy has his own mission and it’s weaved together like a braid – each piece intertwining to create a whole.

Screenwriters Sean Anders (Sex Drive) and first-timer Josh Heald give their characters real things to say: insults, accusations, apologies, and explanations that resonate with the audience; you know these guys. The relate-ability factor, especially for men is high. Women will recognize a (man) type or two as well, although they themselves are represented as little more than mattresses with hair.

For that reason, one little chick (on the Chick-o-Meter) comes tumbling down; otherwise, Hot Tub Time Machine is a guilty pleasure full of rudeness, paranoia and camaraderie. And you don’t have to get wet to enjoy the fun.

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