Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

I think I owe someone an apology. Maybe it should be directed at director Steve Pink, or maybe it should just be towards anyone who was a part of making Hot Tub Time Machine. I believe they deserve an apology, because I’ve been unfairly criticizing the film since before its release. I’m not even sure why I continued to make fun of it. Maybe it was because it looked incredibly foolish and childish, and this was unfair.

I believe issuing an apology would be the right thing to do, because I actually quite enjoyed watching Hot Tub Time Machine. It was enjoyable because it was really funny, something that I didn’t really expect. See, I had heard this film compared to The Hangover, a film which I really disliked. I also have no adoration for the 80’s, nor was I around during that time, and because of this, I didn’t think I would get most of the humor. So, going into this film, I had absolutely no expectations regarding it. Thankfully, Hot Tub Time Machine easily ended up being quite funny, and not at all requiring an extensive knowledge of the 1980’s.

The story revolves around a group of friends, one of which just had a suicide attempt, who decide to go on a vacation in order to help this one person out. They want to make him happy, so they go to a place they had fun at 20+ years ago. Unfortunately for them, this place has become run-down; shops are out of business, and not many people are around anymore. The vacation seems to be a dud, so the guys decide the best way to spend the night would be to get drunk and jump into a hot tub.

Apparently this hot tub is very special, and after the control panel is splashed with some form of Russian energy drink, and sends the group back in time to 1986. They don’t know it at first, but they quickly realize that this is the case. They initially decide that they shouldn’t do anything differently from the first time they lived that night, but ultimately decide that they should change the past in order to guarantee a better future for themselves.

See, all four of the people in the group have issues of their own in the present: Adam Yates (John Cusack) has just had his wife leave him, Nick Webber (Craig Robinson) gave up his singing career and is now generally unsuccessful, Jacob (Clark Duke) is a stereotypical nerd living in Adam’s basement, and finally Lou Dorchen (Rob Corddry) who is an alcoholic, who possibly attempts suicide right at the beginning of the film.

Something that Hot Tub Time Machine does wonderfully, and why I think the film ends up working as well as it does, is because the characters it presents us with are likable and well-developed right off the bat. We see their faults, and we want them to overcome these difficulties. In a sense, the film is a coming of age story, despite the fact that three of the main characters are already either in, or nearing, their 40’s.

The characters begin the film immature, mostly in how they handle themselves. Reliving the events of a single night end up helping them overcome the struggles that they face in the present. They also become closer as a group, even if that doesn’t always seem like the case. There is a lot of “male bonding”, as the film likes to call it, and this gives you a good sense of how each member of the group feels about the next, and also gives you a good sense of each character’s nuances and small details.

The different parts to each character are also brought across wonderfully by the actors involved. Cusack is great, Duke and Robinson are fun to watch and Corddry is amazing, and easily gets the most laughs. His character is the most over-the-top, with the other characters grounded in reality, but he is also the one that gets to have the most fun. Despite being an alcoholic–or at least, that’s what we are told early on–he seems to hold himself together quite well once the group goes back in time. He gets to have a lot of fun, and progresses far as a character.

There is also a couple of problems that the characters have to deal with once they are sent back to the past. For one, the time machine is broken, so they cannot return right away. The repair man, who, for reasons that go unexplained knows about the time travelling, says he can fix it, but also explains that they need to return before dawn. The energy drink that made it work the first time is also required to allow them to traverse time from the past, but unfortunately this drink was confiscated by one of ski patrol officers. And, because that isn’t enough, Jacob keeps flickering in and out of existence, because he wasn’t even born in 1986.

So, the characters have motivation, danger and development. What else is needed? Well, given the fact that Hot Tub Time Machine is a comedy, the film needs to be funny. It is. The jokes make you laugh, the situations are often bizarre enough to confuse you before you decide to just go with it and enjoy the ride, and the entire production will leave you feeling good about yourself. The film also ends on a nice note, being uplifting, meaning that even if you didn’t find it all that humorous, you will feel good by the end.

Hot Tub Time Machine is one of the most surprising films I’ve watched. It had almost everything that I wanted from a very good comedy, and its problems–few as they are–can easily be ignored because of that. It’s funny, its characters have depth and development, and the premise itself is interesting. I really enjoyed myself while watching it, and would definitely say to give it a look if you initially passed it over like I did.

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