Does calling your movie Hot Tub Time Machine give you a free pass on the final product not being really, really awesome? Maybe that's not a fair question. Hot Tub Time Machine is definitely good -- it's just not great. And while the name does, in fact, seem to imply that expectations can't be too high (with sheer ridiculousness set forth from the get-go), the movie still suffers from a lot of squandered potential. However, it will probably make you laugh, and maybe that's all you can really ask for.
The story starts with old friends Adam (John Cusack) and Nick (Craig Robinson), who are both pretty mopey. Adam's girlfriend just left him, and Nick is feeling kind of emasculated about his failed music career. But they put their thirtysomething angst aside when the third member of their old clique, the tequila-soaked basket case Lou (Rob Corddry), is hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning after jamming too hard to some rock in his Trans Am. They're not sure whether or not their hard-partying buddy was actually trying to kill himself, but just to be safe, they try to cheer him up with a trip back to Kodiak Valley, the ski lodge they frequented in their youth. After talking it up to Adam's nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) in the car on the way there, they realize that the resort, much like them, has become a spent shadow of what it once was. But, lucky for everyone, the hot tub attached to their room transports them back in time to 1986, where they re-inhabit their 20-year-old bodies, party at the lodge in its heyday, and try not to do anything to prevent Jacob (who for occasional milliseconds starts to flicker out of existence) from being born.
What follows is a fairly solid sex/stoner/gross-out comedy with a predilection toward '80s jokes. That's all well and good, but it can be a little disappointing when you think about what could have been. You've got a fun sense of smirking self-awareness surrounding the unabashedly silly premise, you've got a pointlessly evil rich-kid villain named Blaine, and you've got John Cusack playing a guy who is transported back to the '80s -- to a ski lodge, no less. You'd think there would be a lot of room for cleverness and self-parody, but aside from an extra making a "two dollars" reference near the beginning, none of the humor really ties together in a cool way -- it's mostly just big hair and leg warmer jokes. William Zabka even shows up and makes a cameo (the bad guy from The Karate Kid!), but you might not even recognize him. He's hiding under an admittedly awesome mustache, but he certainly doesn't challenge anyone to a ludicrously climactic ski competition. Of course, that might not matter to most viewers, because the movie is still funny, and if nothing else, it delivers on the title.
Hot Tub Time Machine on AllMovie
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)