Steve Pink, “Hot Tub Time Machine” (2010).

Oct 04 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

So my self-imposed challenge of the month of September was to write one blog entry a day – short little squibs, at the very least, then stretched if the movie, good or bad, warranted the extra space. So far, so good; except for a couple days here and there, I was able to muster the writing discipline to crank something out every day.

However, I can’t think of a better illustration of the garbage-in-garbage-out principle than what I’ve done in the last thirty days, but the truth is that I was stuck in a bit of a writing bind. The more depth there potentially was to a film, the more difficult it would be to meet my daily deadline, since I wouldn’t be content with writing only 150 words on, say, Mesrine. So soldier on I did, gamely watching the summer movie franchises and telling myself I’d be popping them into the DVD player anyway at some point, and stepping up to the daily routine of writing. A mostly rewarding experience, as you can imagine.

Until Hot Tub Time Machine, at least; you’d wince, too, at the prospect of having to write about a movie so dispiritingly dumb. To be fair, the film never really pretended to be otherwise – how could it, when the titular premise is so ludicrous to begin with – but is it too much to ask for a little more effort? Like maybe a film as raunchy as Porky’s (and this is), but with older and wiser characters? One would think that the comic potential of time travel to the Reagan era – the hair, the music, the fashion – would be obvious, and that’s precisely the problem. The ‘80s gags are dispensed with in about five minutes (they’re all clustered in one scene), and all you have left, two-thirds of the way through, is a limp buddy movie with the sadly requisite jokes about vomit and gay panic. (Not at the same time, but you know what I mean.) The fact that John Cusack is in this film, himself the star of his own ‘80s movies – and so is Crispin Glover, partly famous for his own ‘80s time-travel movie – seems like wasted potential.

Best scenes: they’re already all in the trailer, I’m afraid, but wait for Craig Robinson when he realizes the horrible, impossible truth – “It’s some kind of… hot tub time machine!”

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