Director: Steve Pink
Cast: John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke
John Cusack. King of the 80s. But now he's going back there with regret for the first time. You see, Andy (Cusack) isn't a positive guy. He hates his life. He has a geeky son, Jacob (Duke), who doesn't care, a wife who's left him and two loser friends who occasionally succeed at being funny - Nick (Robinson), the token black guy, and Lou (Corddry), the one with all the bodily fluids.
When Lou accidentally almost kills himself, Andy and Nick decide the cure is a nostalgic trip back to the ski resort of their drink-fuelled student days. Bringing his teenage son with them, the four guys soon end up in the titular jacuzzi, which then transports them back in time to 1986. "Its like some kind of hot tub... time machine" gasps Nick, staring straight down the camera. It's a great gag. It's also the best line of the whole movie.
There are jokes in other places - the usual puns on "mother fucker", a crazy old time travel guru played by Chevy Chase - but most aren't funny. It's a shame given the promise of Steve Pink's wonderfully obvious title, and the entertaining trailer. But that's where the majority of the laughs come from. The rest is just Lou running around vomiting, pooing, peeing on vomit, vomiting whilst peeing, and then pooing again.
At times, Rob Corddry can be quite amusing; there's a neat gag involving a Russian energy drink called "Chernobly" and Lou's plans to change the future are absurdly daft ("Twittagra!") but for the rest of the 95 minutes, his energy is wasted in such a cliched role. Cusack, too, is far from stretched, reliably doing his mumbly one-liner schtick. It's hard to say anything bad about his presumed offspring. Mainly because he's completely unmemorable.
Cramming in period references and knowing nods, Hot Tub Time Machine has a clear love for its time zone. But nostalgia does not humour make. Yes, the Michael Jackson joke is good, and Craig Robinson even gets away with a rip-off of Back to the Future's Johnny Be Good scene with Black Eyed Peas' Let's Get It Started, but there's no emotion here. No originality either. Even the surprising ending feels like a cop-out.
Sporadically amusing and incredibly shallow, Hot Tub Time Machine never hits the heights of The Hangover, which it clearly aspires to be. It wants to be a clever burst of bubbly fun. At times it barely manages to tread water. For all its retro fashion and wonderfully dated soundtrack, this time machine is less a hot tub and more a luke warm piss pot.
It's pitched as The Hangover meets Back to the Future. And that's right: it's as if The Hangover travelled back to a time when jokes weren't funny.