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Thursday, May 06, 2021
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Hot tubs for dummies

Hot Tub Time Machine has reached the acme of cinema in that its aesthetic sublimity and biblical renditions have rendered a new age in which the existential and metaphysical property of human existence once pondered by magi and sage alike have now been extricated from its granitic, Gondwanaland sepulcher into the realm of a surrealist bazaar.
Only kidding. But Hot Tub Time Machine is really sweet.
The movie avoids any sort of message or heavy-handedness. As one can guess from the title, the film just tries to be stupid yet funny, and it is very successful in both.
There are only a handful of time-travel movies out there and there are very few, if any, movies that focus on hot tubs. So Hot Tub Time Machine has the honor of being the first movie in cinematic history to join together two very different but nonetheless fascinating topics.
The set-up is quite typical for a buddy comedy. Four men down on their luck are disillusioned by how their life has turned out at middle age. Adam (John Cusack, 2012), Nick (Craig Robinson, Father of Invention), and Lou (Rob Corddry, Rogues Gallery) have led, to put it lightly, unfulfilling lives. They wallow in their own self-pity and drown their problems away through booze and whining.
There's also Jacob (Clark Duke, Sex Drive), Adam's passive 20-year-old nephew who lives in his basement and does nothing besides play videogames.
After Lou tries to kill himself, the four decide to spend the weekend at a ski retreat. There they party in (unbeknownst to them) a time-bending hot tub, which, after a night of hard drinking – that may or may not have involved mascot sex – transports them to 1986.
The rest of the movie is about the four trying to get back to the present, all the while reliving and/or trying to change the past.
In a way, it's everyone's ultimate fantasy. Who wouldn't want to change something in the past? Or more importantly, who wouldn't want to bet against the Bills in 1991 and Al Gore in 2000 to make a ton of money?
The four, however, have to be careful. One false move could result in the butterfly effect, which, if you haven't seen the horrific Ashton Kutcher movie, means that the entirety of the time-space continuum and life as they know it could completely change. As one of the guys puts it, they could make Hitler president.
All the while, they must deal with the '80s. Granted, most young people who watch it may not get everything, but the movie does a good job of reminding the audience of the particulars and fads of an era when cellular phones weighed five pounds. Stunner shades, Jerry curls, Ronald Reagan, the incandescent clothing and Poison all make their respective appearances.
It makes the audience glad that the '80s occurred, but happier that it's over.
The movie isn't smart but it is rather over the top, rude and simply fun. What makes it work is that it doesn't overuse clichés. It simply uses them to their maximum effectiveness with hilarious results.
The performances were funny as well. Cusack uses his typical charm and everyman demeanor to good use, while Robinson was cute as an unconfident giant who's there for his friends.
The two to watch out for, though, are Duke and Corddry. Duke plays Jacob as a likeable loser who can still stand up for himself. He's like Michael Cera, except not boring.
Corddry goes all out. He is loud, obnoxious and totally ridiculous – just like we expect him to be. The bald SOB is hilarious in every scene he's in, whether he's getting beat up by some ski buff or trying to take advantage of his knowledge of the future.
There's also Chevy Chase (Presidential Reunion) as the mysterious hot tub mechanic who gives the four advice on how to get back to 2010. He doesn't nearly get as much screen time as he should. Though his character is practically worthless, Chase plays him as well as the script can provide.
Hot Tub Time Machine is great fun and is good for a night of laughs. It may not be H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, but with a title like that, who cares?

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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