Family, friends, co-workers and psychiatrists have often questioned my taste in comedy. I consider Woody Allen one of the funniest men alive, but I’m also a sucker for lowest-common denominator gag-o-second spoof films from the original Airplane! (still a masterpiece) to the past decade’s awful trend of “Fill-in-the-Blank” Movies. I despise the recent trend of uber popular gross-out bromantic comedies (I Love You Man, The Hangover) but I love anything from David Wain (The State, Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten). When I first heard about Hot Tub Time Machine six months ago, I hadn’t been this excited about a comedy since Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Sadly, though, what was once thought to be a can’t-miss piece of pure cinematic gold turned into another haphazardly executed Snakes on a Plane style hatchet-job. I mean how could you go wrong with a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine?Do I even need to go over the plot here? The director and screenwriters throw everything and the kitchen sink (including a squirrel and a man in a bear costume) into this bubbling-over jacuzzi. They try to appease the bromantic comedy fans (oh, yes, yet again, this is another sicko comedy about brotherly love) while attempting 80’s style throw-back humor and lacing it with ultra-dark Bad Santa style jokes about suicide and parental issues. Was the film too high-concept or was the filmmaking too lazy?
The best thing about the film is the cast. John Cusack stars in his second high-concept comedy in a row following the hilarious 2012. Rob Corddry becomes the latest Daily Show cast-off to make a bid for movie stardom, and Craig Robinson is funny as hell. The film also boasts a bevy of some of my favorite “under-the-radar” babes including the spunky Lizzy Caplan (from Cloverfield and the first season of True Blood) and the versatile cutie Collette Wolfe (from Observe and Report). And then there’s the funniest part of the movie featuring a running gag about a soon to be one-armed bellhop played by none other than Back to the Future’s own Crispin Glover. I mean how could the filmmakers go astray with these people on board?
But don’t get me wrong. I laughed a lot. And I thought this was funnier than The Hangover. Like all time machine epics, this is a film about missed opportunities. In a brutal irony, the biggest missed opportunity was not making Hot Tub Time Machine THE. GREATEST. MOVIE. EVER. It had all the elements on paper…but maybe it was missing something. Perhaps we needed some mother-effin’ snakes in that mother-effin’ hot tub. Oh, and Amanda Peet. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket.
DAMN YOU, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE!
Written by David H. Schleicher
Yeah, David, comedy tends to be severely personal. This movie does not appeal to me at all, even before I read your review. Couldn’t possibly imagine seeing it when the ticket prices have gotten so high — or is that only for 3-D movies? I’ve become more discriminating about what I see because money is so tight now.
But I do enjoy reading your reviews….(smile)
Cinda, the ticket prices for 3D movies are ridiculous. I’m not a big fan of the trend. Though, wait, could you imagine…Hot Tub Time Machine in 3D???? Now that I would pay for (not)! –DHS
Well, David, I must say that I also have an irreverent taste in comedy as well, and I know exactly what direction you are coming from. Yes, Woody Allen is priceless, and I’d add Mel Brooks’s THE PRODUCERS (to a lesser extent, BLAZING SADDLES too) to the shortlist of funniest American comedies of the past four decades. In fact for me only one other film ranks with THE PRODUCERS, and that’s Hal Ashby’s BEING THERE, which if I recall corrrectly you are also a big fan of. But this is a statement on the type of comedy I like, which of course is grand satire. The recent stuff from Apetow and the stoner comedies are not in my sphere of appreciation, but like you I loved the original AIRPLANE! (is there anyone out there that doesn’t?) and the sequel, and also am reasonably fond of THE NAKED GUN. The more serious comedies like Alexander Payne’s SIDEWAYS and ELECTION boast a special resonance with me. I think I know your taste too, and it’s fairly similar to mine. The fact that you found a lot to laugh in with this film and 2012 tells me your sensibilities are in the right place!!! It’s heartening too that you feel the film eclipses THE HANGOVER in humor too.
Sam, yup, yup, yup to all of the above. –DHS
I do feel obliged to come back here and make a brief comment David. I did see this yesterday afternoon as the first part of a double feature with THE CLASH OF THE TITANS. Well, I liked the latter more, so that should tell you something! And TITANS was really just barely passable, if that. But I understand exactly where you are coming from as per the comedy, where I’d be lying to say I didn’t laugh at some of the madness here. But with two of the kids in tow, I must say I did cringe at the sexual stuff.
Oh yes, Happy Easter to you and yours David!
Same to you, Sam! –DHS