Sunday, May 9, 2010

Movie review: Hot Tub Time Machine

As published in last Friday's Day and Night magazine with the Irish Independent:

Does anyone really want to relive the 1980s? The disastrous hair, Maggie Thatcher and Mr Big: there are so many reasons not to go back.

Hot Tub Time Machine revels in ’80s nostalgia right down to its ludicrous, neon-lettered title. For Adam (John Cusack) and his estranged buddies Lou and Nick - all stuck in depressive, dead-end adulthood - the era of Ronald Reagan and legwarmers were the best years of their lives.

When Lou (an insanely funny Rob Corddy) almost comes a cropper thanks to a cocktail of booze, exhaust fumes and Motley Crue, Adam and Nick (Craig Robinson) decide a restorative road trip is in order. The trio travel to the ski resort of their hedonistic late teens.

Like the lead characters, the resort has seen better days and there’s a rotting dead animal in their hotel hot tub. Enter repairman Chevy Chase (funny again for the first time in decades – a sure sign we’re heading back in time), add a dash of male bonding in the titular time-bending tub and the boys are rocketed back to 1986.

There is a nod to a Back to the Future style plotline, but this isn’t the place to come looking for a treatise on the time-space continuum. This is a movie having fun with itself and the era it parodies, where Don Johnson is a style icon and tape cassette Walkmans are the zenith of audio technology.

Directed by Steve Pink, who wrote Cusack’s Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity, the script isn’t what it should be, relying a lot on visual gags, some toilet humour (literally, in the case of a catheter) and pop culture references that will be lost on audience members under 30.

Saying that, there are enough laugh-out-loud moments – especially a running gag about how Crispin Glover’s bellboy loses an arm – to keep things ticking over. As for the title, like much of the 1980s, it’s so bad, it’s good.

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