Hot Tub Time Machine review

Crude but funny time travel comedy that on the whole delivers some good laughs. Be patient with it though – the early scenes are too strained and forced to amuse.

Three middle-aged blokes – everyman Adam (Cusack), loathsome Lou (Corddry) and downtrodden Nick (Robinson) – have been buddies since their teenage years and decide to go on reunion trip to a ski resort, the scene of their youthful indiscretions. They're accompanied by Adam's shy nephew Jacob (Duke), who's continuously embarrassed at their aggressive behaviour.  On their first night the four guys get roaringly drunk in the alluring hot tub outside their room – and wake up to find themselves back in the year 1986. They realise that they must relive the events that took place that very night all those years ago in order to make sure their respective lives turn out correctly. Adam must break up with a girlfriend for example, while poor Jacob must make sure his mother is impregnated.

Cue relentless fond reminders of that somewhat frightful decade: the quiffs, Miami Vice T-shirts, Rambo and Red Dawn posters, colourful leg warmers, bright lipstick, MTV, girls with BIG hair – all these sights and sounds greet our four befuddled protagonists. "What colour is Michael Jackson?" Nick asks a passing party girl. "Black" she responds.  Faces of the '80s like Crispin Glover, here playing a bellhop in danger of losing his arm, and a very aged Chevy Chase, as a repair man, further add to the nostalgic feel. If you lived through the '80s and liked the sexist lowbrow comedies the decade cheerfully churned out then this movie will have special appeal for you. It apes those movies adroitly and has surefooted confidence in knowing that if one gag fails another will soon be along to make up for it.

It's not very good, to be honest, but you can't help liking the movie. It gets better as it goes along and is breathlessly paced, always engaging and ending up a most agreeable way to pass the time – though you won't respect yourself once it's over.

Official Site
Hot Tub Time Machine at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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