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Better Late Than Future 

After two weeks of careful reflection, we weigh in on Hot Tub Time Machine

click to enlarge art14885.jpg

A movie in which John Cusack hops into a hot-tub time machine and travels back to 1986, where he must don ski gear and deal with relationship problems while tripping on mushrooms?

Oh yeah, sign me up.

Dispensing with plot as quickly as possible: Hot Tub Time Machine stars a game Cusack as Adam, a depressed insurance salesman who conspires with friends Nick and Lou (Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry) to revisit a ski lodge where they once shared their glory days. They bring along Adam’s awkward nephew, Jacob (the ever-funny Clark Duke). The place has become a dump in two and a half decades, except for one mysterious hot tub…

The men don’t know the hot tub has sent them back in time — though the wardrobes of their fellow skiers (leg warmers, big hair) make them suspicious — until a mirror reveals them as their younger selves.

The man-boys pledge to repeat their steps from the past exactly to avoid messing up the future with the butterfly effect. This doesn’t work, obviously.

The film works as a mega-vulgar Back to the Future for the new millennium. It even has Crispin Glover (Future’s George McFly) as a bellhop in both time periods. There’s a wonderful, sick joke running throughout the film involving his character.

An insane exuberance permeates the whole movie, from its goofy plot to its disgusting sight gags. (Corddry and Robinson share a moment in a bathroom that will become legend.)

Continuing his unlikely resurgence, Chevy Chase shows up as a mystical hot-tub repairman who seems to know that magic is at play, but he refuses to tip his hat. (It’s nice to see Chase in a movie that doesn’t have some stupid dog or “Vacation” in the title.) Collette Wolfe, who was absolutely adorable as Seth Rogen’s secret admirer in Observe and Report, is an obnoxious howl as Adam’s sister and Jacob’s mom.

The mid-to-late ‘80s were, of course, Cusack’s original playground for stardom, with films like Better Off Dead (1985), One Crazy Summer (1986) and Say Anything... (1989). It’s my guess that director Steve Pink had the time of his life putting this one together. There’s an obvious love for the ‘80s at play.

Hot Tub Time Machine isn’t the first movie to find an excuse for Cusack to revisit 1986. The ingenious Grosse Pointe Blank saw his professional assassin visiting his ‘86 high school reunion and killing somebody with a pen (in a nice nod to Say Anything). Hot Tub also features some nice visual nods to Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler persona.

There have been persistent rumors of a Back to the Future remake. This is basically a partial remake, with some awesome dick jokes thrown in for good measure.


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