Posted by: Dr P | May 17, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

Outkast’s seminal Noughties classic “Hey Ya” enquired as to what could possibly be cooler than cool? The answer, dear reader, was “ice cold”. Whilst this is correct, temperature-wise, it’s not an especially satisfying answer is it? However, I’ll damn well tell you what’s cooler than cool … hot tubs and time machines. Individually quite fun, put them together and oh my lord, it’s freaking AWESOME.

I experienced my own hot tub time machine not that long ago when I left my watch in the washer. Thankfully it came out relatively undamaged, if slightly cleaner, which is also true of our central protagonists in this most excellent adventure. It really is a kind of Bill and Ted Part 3 after all, a group of nerdy men approaching middle age (plus one highly uncool kid in tow) who embark on a crazy adventure thanks to a time travelling portal.

But we’re jumping ahead aren’t we? The main men are a pretty sad bunch as we discover them. Adam (the superb John Cusack) has just been dumped by his girlfriend, and all he has left for company is his nerdy nephew Jacob, who sits in the basement and plays computer games all day. Meanwhile his former best buds and bandmates Nick and Lou are having their own troubles – Nick’s been forced to give up his musical passion by his other half, while Lou is so down on his life that he’s attempted suicide.

Having discharged Lou from hospital, the guys decide the best thing to pick them all up is a trip to the scene of their wildest teenage adventures, Kodiak Valley, a mountain ski resport with a wild reputation. Or at least it used to be. It’s now a rundown battered old place, full of shut down shops, depressed folk and a hotel bellboy missing an arm (a stroke of genius there). However, the four are enticed into what appears to be a normal hot tub on their verandah and are instantly transported back in time to Winterfest ’86, a hedonistic party at Kodiak Valley, where the young adults were faced with all manner of complex choices which led to their lives unfolding the way they did.

Naturally, half of the time they are concerned, Back to the Future-style, about not upsetting the timeline of events, while the remainder of the time they want to change things for the better. Cue various discussions about the Butterfly Effect and the like. Of course, they decide to plump for keeping things “as they were” which leads to all manner of beatings for Lou, a rip-roaring band performance from Nick, and encounters with women from their past – and present. Plus a lot of half-naked shenanigans and general japery.

This is a highly daft – and superbly funny – film. I laughed out loud almost constantly; there are some killer one liners, and the whole premise, stupid as it is, works really well. Sure you can see twists coming, but the way they play out generally delivers a satisfying end. Cusack in particular is wonderful; he’s a very astute comic actor, able to switch from silly to serious to ridiculous at the drop of a hat. Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry are also very good in their parts as Cusack’s pals, while the only disappointment is the lack of character development for the youngest member of the group, Jacob. That said, the movie really is about the 3 older guys reinventing themselves and living through their former life choices.

The soundtrack’s superb, as you’d expect, with some proper 80s gems thrown in. Foot tapping and cheesy grins are very much the order of the day. Mind you, I get like that without the music. There are some proper geeky 80s references, a whole host of wild and wonderful side characters, and very well set up comic moments indeed. Chevy Chase cameos as the mystical hot tub mechanic who randomly appears to dispense advice while dressed up like a ghostbuster. Not his finest moment but it’s fun when you recognise him.

Overall, 3 stars based on the high laughter quotient, with a whole star for the “will he, won’t he” running theme about how/when/if the bellboy will lose his arm. Well worth a view.

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Responses

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