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Gavin Grades The Movies

Hot Tub Time Machine

Anyone who can admit that a movie with a title THIS ridiculous that has an even more ridiculous plot came from a night of shrooms, alcohol and hot tubbing has got some pretty big balls.  There are so many struggling filmmakers out there that to know that you can literally wreck yourself and still get a movie made is just infuriating.  How does that even happen?  Well, it helps when you're a group of guys that is friends with John Cusack.  Hot Tub Time Machine is just about as stupid a name as a movie can get, rivaled only be Snakes on a Plane.  But unlike that one, this is actually good...well, not good but funny.  Cusack teams up with Rob Corddry (The Daily Show, Old School), Craig Robinson (The Office, Pineapple Express) and Clark Duke (who prior to this was only one-line guys in other films) and they all get drunk in a hot tub at a ski lodge and get sent back in time to 1986 where they try to right the wrongs of their life.  I know that what I just laid out there literally sounds like a bad dream at best and you'd expect this to on the straight-to-DVD shelves in no time, but the truth is it's funny as hell.  This film has the potential to be the quoted, cult craze of 2010 just like The Hangover was of 2009.  (And if you ask me, it's much funnier than The Hangover too.)  There are three ingredients to this film that make it funny.  First is the fact that it's called Hot Tub Time Machine.  This film never takes itself seriously or tries to be more than it is.  It's tawdry and cheesy and loves every second of it.  Second, it's a HARD R-rating!  It's refreshing to see comedies make that return to a creative level where they don't need to pander to the teenage crowd to turn a buck and end up in a PG-13 bog.  This movie tests your limits of taste and comedy way more than The Hangover did.  And the last ingredient is assembling the perfect cast.  The four main stars play off each other like real friends would and are painfully funny at times with the viciousness they sling insults at each other as only close comrades would.  Cusack, Corddry and Robinson are all gifted improv performers and flex their muscles on this as I get the impression that a script for some scenes was nothing more than a rough outline.  But the great cast performances extend beyond them.  Crispin Glover (Back to the Future, Alice in Wonderland) makes his scene stealing return to films about time travel.  Chevy Chase makes a refreshing appearance as the mysterious Repair Man who kinda knows what's going on.  And Collette Wolfe (Observe and Report, Semi-Pro) blesses us with her presence in this as well because for as drop-dead gorgeous as she is, she's just as funny.  Just like any comedy of this nature though, there are flaws.  It has moments that are weak and void of humor.  Those scenes almost feel like they were shot later when they went back and realized that they had to tell a story somehow.  Plus there is a romantic interest Cusack has with actress Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield) that comes completely out of nowhere and doesn't make us care about it at all.  However, if you think that a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine sounds funny and aren't turned away by gross out, frat boy humor that comes from mind-altering drugs and hours of inebriation?  Then boy, have I got just the movie for you. Hot Tub Time Machine (Rated R) Gavin Grade: B+

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03/25/2010 12:58PM
Hot Tub Time Machine
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06/20/2011 7:26PM
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