While The Hangover has been credited with bringing back the R-rated comedy to the mainstream, it’s got nothing on Hot Tub Time Machine. The premise itself feels like a big part of the joke in a movie that clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously. This message is delivered loud and clear when Craig Robinson supplies us with a reminder of the film title in a fourth-wall-breaking moment.
If you’re not familiar with the premise, it basically goes like this: A few guy friends who are unhappy with their adult lives decide to revisit a ski lodge where they had some of the best times of their lives. Their first night there, they all get drunk in a hot tub and pass out. When they awaken, they find themselves inhabiting the bodies of their past selves in the 1980’s, given the chance to replay events as they’d happened or make some changes and risk the potential butterfly effect.
As we travel back in time with the boys, we’re taken on a nostalgic trip through the 80’s. The old fashions and technology are featured prominently and will be easily recognizable to anyone who was fortunate enough to grow up in such a strange decade. I certainly had several moments of, “Oh yeah, I had one of those!” It’s not just the look though, as childhood movie-goers will notice several nods to popular 80’s classics such as The Karate Kid and Back to the Future.
While the story is maybe more coherent than the premise would suggest and the overall message of getting a second chance shines through, the true strengths of the movie are the performances given by its leading cast. I feel like I’ve seen John Cusack in nothing but indie movies lately, so it was nice to see him here as the glue that holds everyone together. The majority of laughs come courtesy of the surrounding cast of Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke. Each has their own unique comedic delivery which adds infinite layers of humor to an already stellar script. I would feel remiss if I also didn’t mention the cameo of one of my favorite celebs on Twitter, Diora Baird. My only complaint with the movie is that she was in it for such a short time.
I can’t seem to remember the last time that I laughed out loud so much in a movie theater without it being just the infectious laughter that one could generally pick up and roll with. I imagine I would be having the same reaction had I been sitting at home watching the movie by myself. Hot Tub Time Machine is hilarious, plain and simple. I feel I can only properly sum up exactly what it is and how great it is by borrowing the words from Craig Robinson himself in a promo video for the movie: “Hot Tub Time Machine is rated-R for pretty much every reason you want a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine to be rated-R.” Yes it is, Craig, yes it is.
Bottom Line: The true return of the classic R-rated comedy.