Movie review: Hot Tub Time Machine

Movie review: Hot Tub Time Machine


Gross, silly, stupid - yet this 80s time-travel comedy is surprisingly funny

Hot Tub Time Machine

Cert: 15, 99 mins

Starring: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson

As if there weren’t enough movies that are remakes of 80s classics – Clash of the Titans, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and the forthcoming Karate Kid to name but three – along comes a film that uses a high (a very high) concept schtick to take us back there. In the form of a hot tub. That happens to be a time machine.

Giggle all you will, but then that’s the point: Hot Tub Time Machine is silly and it knows it, combining 80s frat comedy with 90s gross-out, and a fair bit of everything else in-between. The plot sees John Cusack‘s recently-dumped 40-something Adam, and two of his similarly down-on-their-middle-age friends, take a trip to the ski lodge they had the most fun when they were kids, taking along his doughy cousin Jacob (Clark Duke) for the ride. Cue one freaky hot-tub, and they really are back to the resort of their youth – and in their former bodies to boot.

What follows is a manic, unrestrained, sometimes just plain stupid but often quite funny – it riffs on Back to the Future, The Karate Kid, Porkies; it crams in 80s pop culture references like they’re going out of style, which of course, they already have; visual gags are everywhere; there are knob gags, boob gags, in fact jokes about every sexual body part; nothing is too crude, time travel is just another way to break taboos (when we learn Jacob doesn’t know his real father, we know there’s trouble brewing); there is a man throwing up on a squirrel with the force of a fire hose. There is man-on-man fellatio.

This is not a film, to be clear then, for everyone. Hot Tub Time Machine clearly wants to replicate the success of last year’s comedy smash The Hangover – another freewheeling all-man comedy. This doesn’t have the realism underpinning it, but there’s an undercurrent of sadness that’s to be admired here. Plus, if you expected emotional truth in a film called Hot Tub Time Machine, you really are in the wrong place.

Stuart McGurk