Who wouldn't want to travel back to the 1980's in a hot tub with their buddies and party again like you did in high school? Think about it? No jobs, no wives, no kids, no responsibilities, just you, your friends, the slopes and as much alcohol as you can consume. Well that is exactly what happens in the new film, "Hot Tub Time Machine," and it works to brilliant comedic affect. John Cusack is joined in the film by comedians Rob Corddry ("The Daily Show"), Craig Robinson ("The Office") and Clark Duke ("Greek") in the film as his time-traveling/'80s partying pals. One thing that the movie does brilliantly is it uses actors who had a big impact on films from the '80s to in a sense give validity to this film while never making a big deal about the reference. For example, never mentioning that John Cusack is wearing the "Say Anything" jacket in a scene and just letting it play there was absolutely brilliant.
In addition to Cusack the film features '80s icons like Crispin Glover ("Back To The Future"), Chevy Chase ("Fletch") and William Zabka (Johnny from "The Karate Kid"). Crispin Glover being in another time traveling movie alone is genius but the fact that it takes place in the '80s just makes it all the more ridiculous and sublime. In fact, Glover is brilliant as a one-armed bellhop in the present, so of course when we see that he had two arms in the '80s, we can't help but hold our breath waiting for him to loose that appendage. Glover and for that matter all of these actors deserve respect for being comfortable with spoofing their own personas and Glover does that with comedic genius using his whacky delivery with perfect comedic timing. Chase of course is the comedy pro here and grounds the film with his supporting role as our time traveling guide. But it is Cusack's performance that truly grounds the movie with a believable quality that only Cusack can deliver. And it was a real treat to see William Zabka relieve the '80s bully role that he mastered in films like "The Karate Kid" and "Just One Of The Guys."
In the film, Cusack, Corddry and Robinson play three best friends who's lives are not going the way they would like them and who have all been growing apart over the years. Adam (Cusack), has recently been dumped by his girlfriend because he couldn't commit and his gamer nephew, Jacob, who lives in his basement. Nick (Robinson) works at a pet salon and is controlled by his over-demanding wife while Lou (Corddry) is a complete mess, a party animal who's running out of steam. After Lou mistakenly attempts suicide, his two buddies along with Adam's nephew decide to take Lou back to the ski resort where they all went to in high school and had the best time of their lives. However, when they arrive the resort is deserted and not at all how they remember it. As the boys begin to party in their room they notice a hot tub that one second was run down and the next look sparkling and new. They decide to take a dip in the tub and after drinking heavily all night wake up in 1986.
The four men quickly realize what has happened when they go skiing and notice that the town is now booming and in the middle of the '86 Winterfest, the best party the ever went to. They're nightmare is confirmed when they see their reflections in a mirror and realize that to everyone else they appear as they did in 1986. Except of course for Jacob who was not born yet, however he does run into his own mother who at the time was a drunken party-slut. As the guys try to figure out away home they delve into every cliché thing they've ever leaned about time travel from movies. The most important things: do not change anything and cause a butterfly-effect. But as the guys continue through their weekend they cannot help themselves to change a few things here and there. But the more things are changed the more the future begins to be affected, which in turn puts Jacob's entire existence in jeopardy. Eventually Adam meets April (Lizzy Caplan) a Rolling Stones journalist on tour with Poison and must decide whether to stay in the '80s or go back to the future. The guys now must fix what they have changed before it's too late.
The films director Steve Pink is also the writer of two of Cusack's most successful films "Grosse Pointe Blank" and "High Fidelity," and his short hand with the actor is obvious as this is another comedy triumph. While the film is clearly a retelling of "Back To The Future" it is quite original and it makes it even funnier that Crispin "George McFly" Glover is actually in the film. In fact, some of the similarities include a "Johnny B. Good" moment where Craig Robinson sings a Black Eyed Peas song in the '80s, Clark Duke "fading away" when his existence was in jeopardy and an ending that is pretty much frame for frame the ending of "Back To The Future," but I'm okay with that. This film was like a spoof, lampooning those cliché ideas from the '80s was hilarious and done well here. Again, the fact that actors from the '80s appear in the film just adds to the magic. Cusack is perfect in his role and Crispin Glover practically steals the film. Corddry and Robinson also give "breakout" performances and show that each actor has a bright future acting in big-screen Hollywood comedies. Duke and Caplan were also good as was Collette Wolf who plays Jacob's crazy mother. William Zabka's brief appearance in the film is a real treat while Chevy Chase is a welcomed addition to the cast and wonderful as the goofy time-traveling guide. In the end, Hot Tub Time Machine is one of the funniest films of the year, a future comedy classic and a retro-good time.