It’s not actually that easy to make a decent comedy, since few of them really make me laugh. I sat stony-faced through The Wedding Crashers, was barely amused by The Hangover, and plain didn’t get Napoleon Dynamite. I therefore had low hopes for yet another time-travel comedy.
Hot Tub Time Machine is self-explanatory: a jacuzzi at a ski resort transports loser Adam (John Cusack), his friends Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry) and nephew Jacob back to 1986. They interpret this as an invitation to improve their future lives, despite warnings from mysterious pool mechanic Chevy Chase. It’s basically Back to the Future with Harold and Kumar humour – with Jacob (Clark Duke) as the one panicking that he’ll never be born.
The humour is crass and puerile but rarely particularly gross (except for when Lou vomits on a squirrel). It’s more based around American Pie-style humiliation and nostalgic sight gags. Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls) puts in a charismatic performance as a music reviewer, and Crystal Lowe is exuberant as the highly irritating One That Got Away. The best supporting role is from Crispin Glover as the embittered one-armed bellhop, providing a squeamish running gag on how he’ll lose his unfortunate limb.
The film was moderately successful and quite well received, drawing praise for its irreverent tone and lack of sentimentality. It’s a cheerfully stupid film full of immensely likeable performances that will tickle and entertain – but absolutely not leave you thinking.