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Hot Tub Time Machine: This Tub Bubbles Without Boiling Over

I can’t think of a recent comedy that was more tailor-made for film geeks. For anyone that loves 80s comedies, time travel films, and the cliches of both genres, then Hot Tub Time Machine is your Valhalla. Even you don’t hold a special nostalgic place in your heart for these types of films, there are enough silly laughs here for anyone. It’s hit-and-miss with its gags, but it throws grossout and sexual humor at us at such a frequency that even if one joke doesn’t stick, another that works follows shortly after. Most importantly, this movie is a coming-out party for Rob Corddry– just like Steve Carell came out in Anchorman and Zach Galifianakis came out in The Hangover, Corddry waltzes away with the movie from the second he steps on the screen. It’s a strange, outlandish, almost deviant performance… and it gets a laugh at nearly every turn.

Adulthood is hard. Adam (John Cusack) has just been dumped by yet another girl, and he lives with his nephew (Clark Duke), who never logs off the internet. Nick (Craig Robinson) works an awful job and has an unfaithful wife. Lou (Rob Corddry) is a one-time party animal, who now drives drunk and pretends that his life is as awesome as it was. After an accident that leads Adam and Nick to believe Lou is suicidal, they decide to recapture the glory days of their youth by going to the Kodiak Valley Ski Lodge, a den of drink and debauchery. Only… it’s no longer what it was. That is, until they hop into their glowing time machine, and when they awake, they find themselves in 1986. In order to not change the future, they set off to try to re-enact everything they did the first time around– but if your future life is crap, wouldn’t you be inclined to stray from the path and have a little fun?

To reveal any of the specifics once they arrive in 1986 would spoil the surprise. I enjoyed a running gag with Crispin Glover (a quintessential 80s actor in his own right) as a one-arm bellhop in the future who has both arms in 1986. His arm seems fated in a Final Destination-like way to get ripped off, and every time the arm narrowly avoids its cruel demise, Rob Corddry gets violently angry– he wants to see this arm get ripped off so badly. I also enjoyed Chevy Chase as the mystical hot tub repairman who gives maddeningly vague advice on how to get back to their time. It’s the perfect parody of every mystical journeyman character in any time travel/transport to another world film ever. This is where the film shows its intelligence: it holds the ability to embrace and poke fun of these genre conventions at the same time. Another example is Sebastian Stan as the pompous rich handsome jerk who is determined to make our heroes have the winter vacation from hell. Any rich douchebag bully from a film is wrapped up and contained in this performance– it’s so accurate that at times it honestly feels taken from another film, the delivery is so earnest and the parody so dead-on.

I could talk about any of the actors, all of whom have their moments. It’s nice to see John Cusack in comedy mode again (this is his third film with Steve Pink, who wrote Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity), and Craig Robinson is always funny in every film when he gets a chance to shine. But there is no doubt who this film belongs to. From Corddry’s entrance, as he drunkenly crashes his car into his garage and proceeds to sing Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” along with the CD, all eyes are on him all film long. Like Galifianakis in The Hangover, he doesn’t care how strange or unlikable Lou becomes, and as a result, his fearlessness is rewarded with a memorable character who is quotable for days. He is the id, acting on every sick and twisted impulse we might have and relishing all of it. Even in moments when Hot Tub Time Machine becomes lukewarm, Corddry is right around the corner, ready to bring the heat.

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~ by russellhainline on April 26, 2010.

2 Responses to “Hot Tub Time Machine: This Tub Bubbles Without Boiling Over”

  1. This movie was great. Haven’t had sustained out-loud laughing in a theater in a long, long time.

    Corddry flipping out at the sight of Clark Duke in the car as he’s picked up for the trip was incredible.

    Two favorite Crispin Glover moments: His disgruntled intro and the elevator tease.

    It was all so good.

    • The elevator tease was outstanding. I also loved the chainsaw tease.

      Line of the film: “It’s so black! So impossibly black!”

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