Dave's Rating:

3.0

Warm enough, at least.

Who's In It: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase, Lizzy Caplan

The Basics: Some losers get in a glowing hot tub (powered by a Soviet energy drink) that's also a time machine and they rewind 24 years to 1986. Then they have to fix the lives they wrecked (their own) in order to go back to the future without ruining the balance of history and the butterfly effect and the space/time/whatever. Stuff that does not take place during their visit: John Cusack meeting Savage Steve Holland or appearing in Sixteen Candles.

What's The Deal: Yes, it's funny. Often really funny, and that's not counting the generic, already tired gimme-jokes about how ha ha ha your cell phone sure is stupid because it's big (check the trailer for Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps and tell me I'm wrong) or how it's hilarious that you people of the '80s don't know what the Internet is. And it's almost as committed to stupidity as its spiritual cousin Snakes on a Plane was. And I say "almost" because unlike the Snakes devotion to a rigorous level of dumb, this one does, sadly, succumb to the desire to make sure the characters experience personal growth. The upside of that information is that it's as shallow about that development as the majority of '80s youth comedies.

Best Bit/Worst Bit: Crispin Glover as a wildly kinetic bellboy. You almost never go wrong with him in a movie. He is consistently operating at an awesome level of weirdness. But Chevy Chase, as a time machine master guy, has almost no reason to appear in this film other than to invoke a Griswoldian presence. And that doesn't happen really.

What's Actually Wrong With It, Not That You'll Really Care. You Are, After All, Going To See A Movie Called Hot Tub Time Machine: It could have had both R-rated raunchiness and pointed '80s satire beyond the minimum level of watching people party to Scritti Politti songs while holding wine coolers. It had the potential to be brilliant but it's actually just funny enough to make sure you don't hate it for being sort of empty inside. There's some gay panic humor that's going to annoy a lot of people, not because it's hateful, but because it's not quite smart enough to be the satire of homophobia it wants to be. And then there's my personal pet irritation--the music cues aren't really right. In 1986, only kids in John Hughes movies and regular listeners to college radio or KROQ were into The Replacements and New Order. All the rest of you old enough to have been there were jamming to Phil Collins. Don't pretend otherwise.

Better '80s Comedies Starring John Cusack You Should Make Sure To Watch: One Crazy Summer, Better Off Dead

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