Friday, April 9, 2010

Movie with Abe: Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine
Directed by Steve Pink
Released March 26, 2010

What could be more entertaining than watching four dudes travel back twenty years in time via an extraordinary powerful hot tub and gain the opportunity to change their pasts in the 1980s? The answer, as it turns out, includes a great many things, namely all the films parodied and skewered in the course of this grand 80s send-up. Also on the list of more enjoyable and worthwhile films are most of the projects worked on by the cast and director Steve Pink, who made the mediocre but harmless film “Accepted.” This film is merely a sloppily-executed exercise in trying to craft a legitimate movie around a premise based only on a clever-sounding title.

The first misstep undertaken by the creative minds behind “Hot Tub Time Machine” is the casting of the four people in the universe least likely to be friends. Despite having starred in many of the iconic 80s films being roasted in this movie, John Cusack has no place hanging out with this crew and he doesn’t fit in at all. Rob Corddry is completely unhinged, depraved, and off-the-wall. Craig Robinson tries hard never to show any expression on his face, in contrast to Cusack’s constant frustrated shouting and Corddry’s continuous bouts of hysteria. Young Clark Duke sticks out like a sore thumb as the obnoxious representative of the younger, apparently wiser generation. These four misfits are completely unbelievable as friends, but trying to make them seem like a realistic unit is the least of the film’s problems.

After the success of R-rated comedies like “Knocked Up” and “The Hangover,” it’s especially frustrating to see films that still put most of their creative emphasis on potty humor. This isn’t a film that should be loaded with depth, but it’s nothing more than a collection of cheap jokes and surface references. Putting aside the stupidity of the time traveling, it’s also a film whose enjoyability depends largely on preexisting knowledge of the nods being made to the definitive films from the 1980s and can’t be nearly as fulfilling or fun to those unfamiliar with the material. It fails miserably in its use of veteran comedian Chevy Chase, playing a hot tub repair man whose role is painfully devoid of any entertainment, and infinitely inferior to Christopher Walken’s less-than-impressive role in “Click.” References aside, “Hot Tub Time Machine” has little to offer other than gross, disgusting humor whose hilarity is dependent mostly on the (im)maturity of the audience. There does exist an audience for this film, but it’s hardly as broad or encompassing as the oeuvre that has included the works of Judd Apatow and his many friends. It’s certainly not a movie that deserves favorable comparison to a movie that takes a similarly wacky concept and runs with it effectively like “The Hangover.”


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