The reason our embarrassing memories are fun, even funny, is because we don’t have to relive them. We get to experience whatever traumatizing event we survived with the full wisdom and perspective of hindsight. Hot Tub Time Machine does our memories one better by allowing the audience to watch its hapless cast relive an excruciating day and night of their lives in 1986 without having to suffer the bruises the characters sustain to their bodies and egos. It is satisfying. I believe it’s the very definition of schadenfreude.
Trying to revisit their glory days, a sad middle-aged group of men (John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson) embark on a road trip to a fondly remembered ski resort, dragging along an unwilling nephew more interested in computer games than people (Clark Duke). As expected, the resort is nothing like they left it. Despite this setback, the men jump into the hot tub, drink beers, spill a mysterious Russian energy drink and travel back in time to 1986. They bumble through the past and end up becoming more healthy and wealthy, if not really wise. Two out of three ain’t bad.
Whether or not you lived through the 1980′s, the cringe-inducing bold colors and graphics strike the right cord of adolescent awkwardness. The movie pokes good-natured at current fashion as well. The sleek black outfits our erstwhile heroes wear on the ski slopes are a stark contrast to the cheerful fashions surrounding them. Somehow, the black outfits are the ones which look foolish in that context. This may be more meaning than director Steve Pink meant to convey, but the colorful clothing could be seen as a visual representation of the naive bravado the characters once had but lost along the road to adulthood. But I digress. This film aims to entertain, not provoke serious thought!
Through a series of incidents that make ample use of pop culture standards ranging from Back to the Future to Pretty in Pink, this movie provides a satisfying blend of light resolution and heavy laughter. Hot Tub Time Machine is “dumb” comedy at its best. It would be a smart decision to go see it.
In lieu of sleeping, Shirley Chan chooses to write, volunteer on art installations, design mobiles, make pop-up books and drink entire pots of coffee. Her work is published in The New York Post, the upcoming Scores Entertainment Magazine and several online magazines like the one you are currently enjoying. Please visit www.WhoIsShirleyChan.wordpress.com for more disturbing glimpses into her brain.