Film Review: ‘Hot Tub’ Oddly Warm


Note: as part of Throwback Thursday, I’m posting this piece I wrote May 24, 2013, for my LiveJournal blog. I am planning to slowly move over anything of substance from LiveJournal to this one, with plans on turning the LiveJournal into something else. 

Hot Tub Time Machine, written by Josh Heald, Sean Anders, and John Morris; directed by Steve Pink. Copyright 2010. Buy at

What can I say? I’m a time travel slut. Whether it’s Quantum Leap, Doctor Who, The Butterfly Effect, or even The Time Traveler’s Wife (book version, although the movie wasn’t that bad), I’ve always had a soft spot for storylines that deal with the concept of time travel, even vaguely, and typically seek them out. And Hot Tub also had another plot device I have a soft spot for, the ‘being young again’ that’s seen in Freaky Friday, Vice Versa, 18 Again, and so on.

So I had been waffling about watching this movie for some time. I knew it was going to be more Knocked Up and less Happy Accidents — with a splash of The Wedding Singer to boot. But it showed up on Netflix Instant, and so I decided to give it a go.

My birthday is tomorrow. And while I’m not that old, I’m old enough to start feeling old, if you know what I mean. Especially when the plot of this movie is taking the three main characters, played by John Cusack, Craig Robinson, and Rob Corddry going back to the ’80s looking like they do now to us, the viewers, and looking like they did then to all the other characters. Clark Duke rounds out the main characters as Cusack’s nephew who has the traditional issue of worrying about whether he would destroy his own existence (and I was a little disappointed they didn’t go with the other time travel trope and have him become his own father).

The movie isn’t the smartest thing in the world. Rob Corddry’s character, described as, “It’s like that friend who’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole,” is a major asshole — to the point where I have to wonder why the other two were ever friends with him. (Yeah, I know — guy friends are different than gal friends, but it went even beyond that in my opinion.)

We get a lot of gay bashing (I was seriously waiting for Corddry’s character, who does all the gay bashing, to realize he is gay and the reason he was so messed up was just a big chunk of self-loathing it was so bad) as well as insults about Duke’s character being a dork (I knew I was in trouble when as they’re trying to figure out how the hot tub time machine works, Duke’s character explains why he would know by saying, “I write Stargate fan fiction; this is my bread and butter, man,” and I related!) And I won’t mention the disgusting factor, from puke on a squirrel to dog poo on a set of keys.

But like Dodgeball, the inherent stupidity of the movie was what made it oddly entertaining. You knew it was a bad movie (Robinson’s deadpan, “It must be some kind of hot tub time machine,” followed by an exasperated look at the camera that just screams, “Yeah, I know — I had to say it, okay?” is one of the best ‘horribly funny’ lines), and yet you can’t help but laugh anyway. I was a little disappointed that with all the ’80s references and even a Sixteen Candles homage (which admittedly Cusack was in), that they didn’t make a reference to Say Anything… — not even a suggestion to Cusack’s character to use a boom box to get the girl and his response of “Nah, it’s been done,” or something?

Not worth buying, but if you’re looking for something that doesn’t make you think (except to wax nostalgic about how horrible the ’80s really were), it’s potentially worth the rental. I didn’t feel like I had wasted ninety minutes of my life — but then again, I was also multi-tasking at the time as well.