‘Time Machine’ mostly joyless & a little lame

Scott Viau

With a name like “Hot Tub Time Machine,” audiences aren’t going into this movie expecting Shakespearean quality and a thought-provoking script. What they’ll be getting, though, is easy comedy that has the requisite amount of bodily fluid jokes, many of which aren’t very funny.

The lives of friends Adam (Cusack), Nick (Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry) have fallen apart since their glory days of the ’80s. Adam is recently divorced from his wife, Nick is currently working in a dog grooming shop and Lou has been trying to kill himself, all to no avail. Their lives are all pathetic and useless. To make matters worse, Adam’s nephew, Jacob (Clark Duke), lives with him and does nothing but play video games and sleep in his basement. In an effort to spice up their lives, they decide to revisit the ski resort that was the pinnacle of their young lives. When they arrive, the resort is rundown and not at all as they remember. However, when a mysterious hot tub doubles for a time machine, the friends are transported back to their heyday and must try to relive their lives without changing anything.

Cusack gives an adequate performance. He brings the enthusiasm and small amount of charm necessary to make his character relatable and sympathetic to his plight, but aside from that there’s nothing. Duke is as whiny as a prepubescent girl, although his one-liners are occasionally humorous. Corddry gives a believable performance, but that’s only because of his ability to act like a moronic jerk. Throughout the movie, I hated his character, and the film’s attempt to make us sympathize with him was lost on me. The best performance undoubtedly comes from Nick. Robinson is quickly becoming one of the best character actors out there, and the song he sings with his band in the film is worth the price of admission. The cameo performance by Crispin Glover is a pleasure to watch. His gestures throughout remind me of how he acted in “Back to the Future,” and it was actually suspenseful to see how he loses his arm.

Although I have a feeling that a lot of people will really enjoy the soundtrack of ’80s hits, I don’t think it had anything special. I’ve never had a special spot in my heart for songs of that nature, but older audience members will probably have a rollicking good time reliving memories of their youth.

The comedy provided in “Hot Tub” is really filthy, but there’s a bit of intelligence behind it. Unfortunately, the toilet humor runs rampant and outshines all the truly funny bits, which are sparse. It feels as if the writers just took the easy way out. Had they spent more time on the script, they may have had a truly funny film on their hands.

No one’s going to doubt the originality of a hot tub time machine, but the whole plot seems to be merely an excuse to make time travel and anachronistic jokes, which are funny at first but become old after a while. The editing and cinematography here is nothing to get excited about. Everything is all pretty boring.

“Hot Tub” is occasionally funny and has a bit of cleverness to it, but that’s about it. Otherwise, the film is full of expletive-filled jokes, which aren’t always necessarily a bad thing, but when they are used as a means to an end, the impact that they are hoping to achieve is lost. Cliched Frat boys and those with low sensibilities are bound to enjoy this movie, but those hoping for a more cerebral experience might want to skip over this one completely.