Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine: Review

My theory when picking Hot Tub Time Machine as my Friday night 'just-for-fun' flick was that I'd have a good time no matter how silly it was, because clearly it was supposed to be silly. Unfortunately it was not very silly. Perhaps I was silly for thinking it would be. Well, you can slap me silly, because it was my fault. After all, I looked at the poster and watched the trailer.

Now John Cusack has the right to star in a goofy movie when he wants to. Heck, Con Air was gloriously, hilariously over the top. I haven't seen 2012, but I understand it's got its share of preposterous scenes too. Unfortunately sitting through Hot Tub Time Machine was just not a pleasant experience, and I think that's down to a few basic errors.

Error number one: Apart from Cusack, the acting of the principal characters was bad.
Error number two: The story was basic - by design, sure - but it really didn't take the viewer anywhere. It felt pointless, nothing beyond what the title promised.
Error number three: It just wasn't that funny - and that's unforgivable.

I could have overlooked errors one and two if the laughs were there.

Hot Tub Time Machine, like Snakes on a Plane before it, telegraphs its plot in the title. The trailer, one assumes by watching it, promises hijinks, time travel, a hot tub, and some offensive - at least original - humour. The reality: not so much.

So Cusack's character Adam is a 40-something dude who's forgotten how to have fun, or something like that, and his two best friends Lou and Nick are living in the past and/or wishing they could return to it. Though Adam wouldn't really know since he no longer keeps in touch.

But when one of them, a frighteningly kooky but one-note Rob Corddry, goes through a "did he or didn't he try to" suicide attempt, the decision is made to go back to where they experienced their most gnarly times 24 years ago: a ski lodge called Kodiak Resort that, in 2010, has become run-down, decrepit and dirty. But at least the room has a magic time machine. Will it bring them all happiness? Can they fix past mistakes without altering, even jeopardizing their futures? Will they get home?

Don't care. Character development was insufficient, direction was uninspired, acting was often shoddy, and like I said, laughs were hard to come by.

This didn't even rate next to a fluffy-flick I recently saw called She's Out of My League that was definitely silly for silly's sake. That one also had a little something to say and had a heart. Plus, it made me laugh.

You've heard of a one-joke movie? Usually this refers to a plot-dependent, central gag that gets overused. Hot Tub Time Machine has one good joke but it's secondary at best: Crispin Glover is a one-armed bellhop in 2010 but has two arms in the past. How did it happen? Finding out is fun. I know that sounds disgusting, but in fact it was just plain silly - with the added bonus of being funny. I wish the whole movie had been.


Blogger Chris MacDonald said...

Great review!

April 9, 2010 at 6:00 PM  

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