Sep 20, 2010

[Movies] Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)There are days when my brain just needs a rest and I end up watching some pretty silly things. It seems that I've been in that kind of a mood for a while now and I've been sticking to very, very simple things to keep myself occupied. Good examples would be me watching episodes of Ru Paul's Drag U and catching the local staging of Xanadu over the weekend.

So here and there I end up wandering into some pretty shallow comedies, or at least that's what they claim to be. The art of excellent comedic dialog and witty banter is a bit lost on the writers of today. Comedy movies these days tend to stick to the kind of humor that involves gross-out situations or lots and lots of slapstick. I think some of the silent movies in the past had more comedic lines than some of the movies that manage to make a name for themselves today.

The time travel element kind of gave me a sliver of hope that the movie might be a tad smarter than most of its genre. However, I think I may have given it too much credit or something along those lines.

Hot Tub Time Machine is a comedy movie directed by Steve Pink, who is the same guy who co-wrote classic John Cusack movies Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity. Of course directing is not the same as writing. I think this better explains part of how this movie turned out the way it did.

ANNAPOLIS - JANUARY 30: Rob Corddry, Clark Duk...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeIn the present, we have three longtime friends who are less than happy. Nick (Craig Robinson) works at a dog spa / salon despite his musical aspirations long ago. Then there's Adam (John Cusack) who a serial single man and his nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) lives in his basement, mostly playing video games like the online community Second Life. The group gets together when Lou (Rob Corddry) is rushed to the hospital in what appears to be a suicide attempt but turns out to be an accidental carbon monoxide overdose of sorts while he was rocking to the music of his youth while in his car. Really smart, right?

Because of this near-death threat, Nick and Adam offer to take him off to the Kodiak Valley Ski Resort, which was a highly memorable place in their younger years. However they discover the place has fallen into ruin to some degree, which is somewhat a reflection of their own sad state in life. Still, they decide to make the most of it and have a wild drunken night in the room's hot tub and somehow this leads to them being transported into their past selves in the 80's with Jacob along for the ride. Thus the rest of the movie centers around trying to figure out how to get back while re-experience their history.

With a plot synopsis like that, you know the movie is bound to be weird. Plus the writers decided to start with a few time travel tropes, the first being that the group first believe that they can't change anything, at the risk of changing the future. This is best epitomized by Jacob obsessively worried about not being born because of their actions and naturally the group realizes their past isn't quite as fun as they had hoped since a number of unfortunate incidents took place during a period in their lives that was less than idea. Blood was involved.

The movie was trying to ride on the recent surge of 80's nostalgia that has met with mixed results for movies that attempted it. I felt that this was definitely not one of the better ones since it only had the trappings of the 80's but it didn't feel like it was really living and breathing the era. And you don't need to spend a lot to do that - just look at movies like Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion which had excellent touches from the period without going over the top.

This is why I go back to the director. He has more of a writing background and he contributed to a number of classic 80's comedies that worked. However this time he was in the director's chair with a different group of writers who handled things on their own. So it's highly possible that he drew on his own creativity in an effort to try and move the movie in a different direction. This just felt like it only had the trappings of the period but none of the heart and spirit.

Hot Tub Time Machine spent better spent its money on the special effects at the end as compared to what happened with the writing and the direction. It gets 2 sad 80's references out of a possible 5.


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