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Hot Tub Time Machine: Funny but Flawed

Ankur Chawla | Monday, March 29, 2010

With a title that seems to give away the punch line of the movie, “Hot Tub Time Machine” surprisingly turned out to be one of the funniest movies of the year. Unlike “Snakes on a Plane,” this movie delivered much more than time travel and a Jacuzzi. Rob Corddry (“The Daily Show”) provides a very “Allen from the Hangover”-like performance, making the movie what it was, and John Cusack (“Serendipity”) and Craig Robinson (“The Office”) also star in this tastefully crude comedy.
From the opening scene, the movie entertains and makes the audience laugh. We see Nick (Robinson) working at a dog-grooming salon, walking a dog on a mini treadmill. After disemboweling a customer’s canine, Adam (Cusack) and Lou (Corddry) are introduced. Both are unhappy, middle-aged adults, and Adam is recently divorced and taking care of his sister’s teenage son, Jacob (Clark Duke).
When Lou attempts to commit suicide, Adam and Nick decide to take him to Kodiak Valley, the resort where they spent their teenage years partying. They arrive only to find the entire city run down, the hotel filled with cats and the bellhop left with one arm. Trying to have a good time despite all of that, they go into a hot tub. Needless to say, the hot tub ends up being a time machine and takes the four of them back to “Winterfest 1986.”
After realizing they have traveled in time, Jacob informs the group they need to try to do everything exactly as they had before to prevent the butterfly effect. While trying to relive their time at Winterfest, Nick, Adam and Lou each try to change their past for the better, ignoring their pact. Lou discovers he can bet on things he know will happen, such as the Denver Broncos beating the Cleveland Browns with “The Drive.”
In true 1980s fashion, conflict emerges between the ski patrol and the four main characters. The ski patrol suspects the four of being Russian spies because of their gadgets from the future and because they recently watched “Red Dawn.” Like the Russian spies they were not, they go back to the future after the mysterious repairman fixes the hot tub. (SPOILER ALERT!) Not wanting to return to his adult life, Lou stays in the past and makes billions by creating “Lougle” (instead of Google) and founding the band “Motley Lou.”
Despite being a quality comedy, “Hot Tub Time Machine” was by no means perfect.  The time travel aspects were without a doubt outlandish, and the repairman (Chevy Chase) wasn’t very well developed. A bit more in the beginning of the movie explaining the characters would have been nice, and (SPOILER ALERT!) it seemed odd that the “Cincinnati Box” from the trailers (and in the movie) was never explained. But still, for a comedy, “Hot Tub Time Machine” delivered more than could have been asked for.
This movie is a better use of $7.50 than three pounds of chocolate toffee covered pretzels from The Huddle and will make you laugh more than clever answers to The Observer’s question of the day. The only thing that could have really made “Hot Tub Time Machine” better would have been a hot tub in the theater to sit in while watching the movie.