Growing up as a product of the raging 80’s, Sony Walkmans, NIKE Airs, and neon were the legendary building blocks of my youth. That illustrious decade made its mark in my life with my first kiss, first car, and high school graduation. Since the 80’s were so good to me, I was obligated to return the favor by seeing the latest buddy flick, Hot Tub Time Machine. Would the 80’s be as good as I remembered?
Spearheaded by a relative new director, actor Steve Pink, Hot Tub launches into an interesting premise. John Cusak leads a motley crew of buddies up to a ski lodge to retreat away from their woes. Dissatisfied with life, they go back to the very ski lodge where so many fond memories were created back in the 80’s. Inexplicably, their hot tub magically transports them 25 years into the past to inhabit their youthful selves.
The past is not a pretty one, filled with Ray Bans, leg warmers, and 80’s glam rock. However, after Cusak and the boys realize where and when the are, they are visited by a quirky hot tub technician played oddly by Chevy Chase. There is some sort of cryptic explanation for the time shenanigans and the boys realize they must do everything the same in order to preserve the timeline. There are a few splinted storylines then Hot Tub concludes in a predictable ‘my life sucks but now it doesn’t’ moment that is typical for most time travel movies.
Hot Tub is mildly amusing at best. As a fan of the 80s, there just wasn’t that much to really get excited about. With the exception of some tacky 80’s clothes, crazy hair-don’ts and music, there wasn’t a lot that set it a part from many other mid-life crisis buddy flicks. Each character gets a chance to set something straight in the past but the storytelling is uninspired and unoriginal. The time mechanics are pretty sketchy and it takes a heavy dose of suspension of belief to go along with this very contrived situation. Unfortunately, I also didn’t need a time machine to tell how this was going to end.
Lizzy Caplan is awkwardly cast as Cusaks love interest which doesn’t work in the present, past, or future. The saddest thing of all is Cusak accepting the lead in this ill-conceived movie. He shared a few past movies with Director Steve Pink such as Grosse Point Blank and America’s Sweetheart so maybe he owed Pink some money or was blackmailed by him or something. Regardless, Cusak mails in this performance and leaves nothing for time to remember.
Hot Tub has a few chuckles but overall is less hot and more lukewarm. If you lived though the 80’s you will enjoy a few moments. If you did not, that’s unfortunate, but still skip Hot Tub and re-watch Back To The Future or Click instead.