Massawyrm gets hot and wet for the HOT TUB TIME MACHINE!!
Published at: Feb. 16, 2010, 7:16 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Here’s a thought that will fester for all of you folks out there slowly aging as you read this: recently a friend noted that if Universal greenlit and released a remake of BACK TO THE FUTURE today and Marty McFly traveled back the same amount of time as in the original, he would land smack dab in the middle of 1980. Let that sink in for a moment. That’s how BACK TO THE FUTURE looked to our parents. Well, instead of 1980, the HOT TUB TIME MACHINE only manages its way back to 1986, but it is close enough. It still will look entirely alien to the younger set, if not still somewhat to those of us who lived through that era.
First things first, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE is fucking fall out of your chair hilarious. It’s a gut-laugh comedy, loaded with a number of uproarious sequences and gags that always hit their mark and never wear out their welcome. But more importantly, while it is dressed up in the trappings of a mainstream come-as-dumb-as-you-are comedy, it is in fact a geek movie. That’s right. A geek movie. Everything you love about time travel movies comes into play here in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, and none of it is in your face, overly explained bullshit either. Instead the film is smart, sharp and unrepentantly irreverent.
When one of three lifelong friends almost gets himself killed and is mistaken for a suicide attempt, his buddies try to cheer him up with a weekend at the ski resort that was the site of one of the best weekends of their lives. But when they arrive, the resort is a ghost town – boarded up and as shitty as they come. With nothing to do, they chill in their hot tub, getting mindlessly drunk and wake up in 1986, none other than the very same great weekend they were trying to relive. Enter every major time travel plot, loophole and discussion you’ve ever seen, wonderfully woven together with some ridiculously over the top bits that very subtly riff on the time travel classics.
What makes this movie rock so fucking hard is that director Steve Pink has assembled a killer group of brilliant comedians, most of whom are always relegated to supporting player status. Using John Cusack as the lovable anchor, Pink brings the background guys into the foreground and lets them do what they do best. Rob Corddry plays the asshole buddy who never left the 80’s – the guy that grew up dreaming about being AWESOME every day, but never knowing what that meant exactly. For the first time, someone has found a pitch perfect use for Corddry’s comedy, allowing him to be hilariously repulsive while still likable enough to keep rooting for him. Craig Robinson does what he does best, just this time he gets to do it as one of the film’s stars – and he kills doing it, so much so that all is forgiven for that whole MISS MARCH thing last year. Yes, even the ball/straw gag he was involved with. Forgiven.
Rounding out the cast is a guy named Clark Duke, who you might not know yet, but are about to in a BIG way. Up until now he’s been a supporting character on the ABC Family show GREEK and played the geeky love machine in the tragically overlooked teen sex comedy SEX DRIVE. Here he plays Cusack’s young nephew caught up in the whole Time Machine debacle, mysteriously placing him 9 months before his actual birth. Without missing a step, he keeps up with everyone he’s surrounded by, once again getting a lot of big laughs on his own. (You’ll be seeing him again a few short weeks later as the comic relief in a little film named KICK ASS, where he also hits all the right notes.)
Backing them up are small bit parts filled with some pretty funny people. The role of the “magical janitor” is played by Chevy Chase who gives a performance that turns the whole cliche on its ear as he tries desperately to seem all mystical and shit only to be completely unintelligible and baffling. It’s the type of brilliant turn you’d expect out of a pro like Chase. But the guy with the best gag in the whole movie is Crispin Glover, whose running joke is so fucking good I will punch in the face anyone who spoils it for another human being, before I kick them square in the nuts and ask what the fuck is wrong with them. THAT’S how good this gag fucking is. I will beat a person.
The film is an incredibly good time and a powerful second effort by long time screenwriter turned director Steve Pink. After writing such gems as GROSSE POINT BLANK and HIGH FIDELITY, he got his shot at directing a very funny, but sadly (also) overlooked teen comedy by the name of ACCEPTED. This made my Best/Worst of 2006 list in the category of “Favorite movie that won’t appear on anyone else’s top 10 list”. A great “comfort movie”, this brought together a group of relative unknowns like Justin Long (who was still struggling at the time to break away from the whole Mac Kid thing), Jonah Hill and Blake Lively – but also turned loose a rabid Lewis Black to chew up the scenery and rant and rave in all the ways we love watching Lewis Black rant and rave. Pink showed he had an eye for talent and knew how to let comedians BE comedians.
Here he perfects that art and takes this to the next level. While I love ACCEPTED, it is a smaller gem for those that love that particular brand of vodka. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE has all the makings of a comedy classic. Yes the premise is ridiculous; but it *knows* that it is ridiculous. The moment Craig Robinson says “It must be some kind of Hot Tub Time Machine” then looks directly into the camera, breaking the fourth wall, you know *exactly* what is going on. You know it is silly, they know it is silly, and fuck it, let’s go for it, right? Well they go for it, and every moment works.
There is nothing about this film I didn’t like, not one moment where a joke failed or they felt like they were reaching. Everything just worked. This isn’t ACCEPTED or SEX DRIVE funny. This is OLD SCHOOL funny; this is TROPIC THUNDER and THE HANGOVER funny. You knew by looking at this that it could go one way or the other. Guess what? It went the way you were hoping. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest theater showing this when it sees release next month. And take friends. Lots of them.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.