I’m going to spend about as much time on this review as I think the filmmakers spent on this movie, which feels like a scant amount. Hot Tub Time Machine is the latest collaboration between John Cusack and his pal Steve Pink (High Fidelity, Grosse Pointe Blank) and it is easily the least significant of the three.
This isn’t high art, nor is it aiming to be. The plot is right there in the title and every joke is dependent upon it. Cusack and his pals, Rob Corddry (the standout), Clarke Duke, and Craig Robinson, travel back to the 80’s and hijinks ensue. If the jokes landed harder and more consistently than they do, then I would have no problem with the adolescent plot and potty humor. But as you might have guessed, that’s not what happens. Instead, they go for the laziest, most obvious gags, which aren’t horrible but warrant little more than a smirk.
The movie tries way too hard to double down as a satire of the 80’s and time travel stories in general (the Chevy Chase stuff fails epically) with diminishing returns on both counts. Then they tack on a message about acceptance, maturation, and friendship that feels… well… tacked on.
It isn’t terrible, just not thought out. There is so much potential here but it feels like they decided, “Why try when we can put four funny guys in a ‘funny’ predicament and hope for the best.” Although, I daresay this is worth recommending for the Crispin Glover arm gag alone (something about Glover’s obliviousness and Corddry’s enthusiasm had me in stitches).