“Hot Tub” is a ho-hum, time-killing machine

New guy comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine” has laughs, but lacks effort

Our four weary hot tub time travelers.
PHOTO COURTESY MGM

Our four weary hot tub time travelers. PHOTO COURTESY MGM

Jay Boller

âÄúHot Tub Time MachineâÄù DIRECTED BY: Steve Pink STARRING: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke RATED: R SHOWING AT: Area theaters When a movie is titled âÄúHot Tub Time Machine,âÄù one component is essential: It needs to be keenly self aware of how inanely stupid it is. Thankfully, âÄúHTTMâÄù knows its very premise is criminally ridiculous. The 1980s time travel romp is exactly as smart as the title suggests, but its smirking self-awareness makes for a stupid albeit mindlessly enjoyable ride. First, a plot recap âÄî considering how haphazardly the film was thrown together, it wonâÄôt take long. Recently dumped Adam (John Cusack) joins loser pal Lou (Rob Corddry), married chum Nick (Craig Robinson) and dorky nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) on a ski weekend trip to a dilapidated resort. A hot tub âÄî you guessed it âÄî serves as a time machine, and the troupe is thrown back into their 1986 glory days at the very same resort, younger bodies and all. The pivotal moment for âÄúHTTMâÄù comes immediately before time travel, when the camera dramatically zooms towards RobinsonâÄôs face and he utters, âÄúIt must be some sort of hot tub âĦ time machine.âÄù ItâÄôs at that moment the audience can rest easy; they know the filmmakers are in on the joke. In terms of laughs, there are quite a few. While âÄúHTTMâÄù is of the severe hedonistic/guy comedy bent (think âÄúGrandmaâÄôs BoyâÄù ), CorddryâÄôs character takes it to new heights. He drugs, he drinks, he mates and his well-honed âÄútotal dickâÄù persona usurps many of the filmâÄôs funnier moments âÄî a forced blowjob scene with RobinsonâÄôs character topping them all. The perennially creepy Crispin Glover has a solid running gag where he almost, and eventually, loses his arm as well. âÄúHTTMâÄù flows well in its mindlessness, but the jokes are painfully hit or miss. ThereâÄôs a surplus of unnecessary bodily fluids (vomit, blood, mock-semen); CusackâÄôs mopy character unconvincingly falls for a manic pixie dream girl (Lizzy Caplan of âÄúMean GirlsâÄù), and DukeâÄôs character is a broken record of âÄúdonâÄôt ruin the future by altering the past!âÄù utterances. On top of those misses, thereâÄôs an obvious aura of laziness. Yes, a film called âÄúHot Tub Time MachineâÄù wonâÄôt ever be confused with âÄúSynecdoche, New York ,âÄù but this feels like a half-baked script executed with a series of one-take-and-weâÄôre-done shots. âÄúHTTMâÄù isnâÄôt a complete dud; itâÄôs actually a fairly satisfying means for viewers to evacuate their brains for an hour and a half. But, not unlike âÄúThe HangoverâÄù before it, thereâÄôs a feeling that âÄúHTTMâÄù is simply a vehicle for a hastily assembled ensemble cast to get drunk, see some breasts and extol some potty humor while the studio cashes in. The filmâÄôs conclusion itself should win an award for not really trying. âÄúStupidâÄù movies can excel âÄî just look at âÄúAnchorman âÄú or âÄúOld SchoolâÄù âÄî but this entry into the lexicon of sophomorically humorous guy flicks lacks the effort and smarts to be remembered beyond its assuredly profitable box office run. 3 of 5 stars