At The Theater #10: Hot Tub Time Machine

The first time I saw an advertisement for Hot Tub Time Machine, a giant card board stand-up display, I thought I would skip this movie. Then I saw a trailer for it and thought that I would definitely skip this movie. But by the time I saw a third commercial for it, I was hooked and wanted to see it. I’m glad I did. Hot Tub Time Machine is hilarious. If you like funny movies, you’ll like this one.

My (and frequent TNM commenter Bryan’s)
first encounter with Hot Tub Time Machine.

Three friends, played by John Cusack, Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry, whose lives are going nowhere go away for a weekend of planned debauchery at the ski resort that was the site of their teenage glory days. Unfortunately, the ski resort is in as rough shape as the three of them. This doesn’t stop them from boozing like madmen in their room’s hot tub, which goes back in time to 1986 when some Russian Red Bull knock-off gets spilled on the tub’s control panel. At first this seems a little ridiculous, but at the end of the day, I guess that doesn’t make any less sense than spinning a wheel to send a whole island back in time.

How many guys peed in this tub for it to become this yellow?

Like in Quantum Leap, the three guys look middle aged to themselves and to the viewer, but the mirror reveals them to look exactly like they did in 1986. The costume designer did a great job outfitting John Cusack in a dark brown duster and fingerless gloves; it was like watching the second coming of Lloyd Dobbler.

Time travel comedy alum and perpetually creepy Crispin Glover has a small role in this movie, playing the creepy (what else do you expect from Crispin Glover) one-armed bellhop Phil, who is twice as armed and much less creepy in the past. 1986-Phil is perhaps the least creepy Crispin Glover has come off since playing George McFly in Back to the Future. Nevertheless, his being in this movie feels like a passing of the torch.

“George, in the future you’re the creepiest actor alive.”

The movie hits both 1980s and time travel jokes. It’s like if you mixed The Wedding Singer with Back to the Future 2. Big cell phones, high-top fades and “I want my MTV” all make appearances. Rob Corddry, reading from the Biff Tannen playbook, learns the very good and very bad that can come from trying to either change the future or profit from future knowledge. Some of the funniest scenes in the movie are when Corddry succeeds or fails from trying to take advantage of what he knows from 2010.

Still the best time travel movie ever.

Also traveling with them to the past is Cusack’s character’s nephew Adam, who gets treated to seeing what his mom was like as a teenager. If Marty McFly taught us anything, it’s that this never goes well. The lesson to be learned here: if you ever find yourself flying backwards through time in a phone booth, a DeLorean or a hot tub, avoid seeing your parents; you’ll only be scarred.