Monday, March 29, 2010

Lots of fun in this 'Hot Tub'

"Hot Tub Time Machine"
Three stars

By Gary Buiso

“Hot Tub Time Machine” is a Valley girl of a cinematic experience — ultimately vapid, but hella fun.

Three old friends are brought together after one botches a suicide attempt — listening to Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” of all things.

The song is an encouraging augury for fans of the glam metal group, or the 1980s in general, because the trio — Adam, Lou, Nick (played by John Cusack, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson, respectively) — are soon travelling back to a time, courtesy of, yes, a hot tub. (Is the DeLorean in “Back to the Future that much more credible?) Along for the ride is Adam’s computer geek nephew played by Clark Duke, who offers appropriate levels of shock and awe at the political incorrectness that follows.

In order to brighten depressed man-child Lou, his chums plan a weekend at the Kodiak ski lodge, where many a cherished memory — tempered by copious amounts of booze and assorted narcotics — was forged. An opening night bro-fest in the hot tub leads to an energy drink-induced mechanical malfunction that disrupts the space-time continuum.

Soon, iconic elements from the ’80s — not counting Cusack — emerge rapid-fire. Neon, big hair, Crispin Glover, cassette tapes — heck, even ALF makes a small cameo.

The pals learn from a handyman, played by Chevy Chase, that they are to repeat, not change, any of their past actions, or else they’ll disrupt the present. That means, among other things, that Adam will have to break up again with his girlfriend — and face being stabbed in the eye with a fork, again.

Lurid temptation abounds, as does regret, as dwelling in the past can prompt the inevitable, “what if?”
The chaotic film is generally well-acted and ably directed by Steve Pink, who wrote “High Fidelity” and co-produced “Grosse Pointe Blank,” both starring Cusack.

Hardly high art, “Hot Tub Time Machine” exists in a realm somewhere between “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and 1982’s “Porky’s” — itself a raunchy, backward-looking comedy set in the ’60s.

It may lack the cultural import of “The Breakfast Club,” but “Hot Tub Time Machine” isn’t exactly out to lunch either.

“Hot Tub Time Machine.” Rated R for for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language. 100 minutes. With John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Crispin Glover and Collette Wolfe.


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