tek's rating: ½

Hot Tub Time Machine (R)
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When I first heard of this movie, it sounded pretty dumb. And also like it could be absurdly funny. I wasn't sure if I'd ever see it, but one night when I got home from work, my roommate was just starting to play the DVD, so I thought I might as well watch it. Um, and so now it's the next day, and I'm writing my review. And I skimmed reviews on Amazon. One said the DVD was much different from what played in theaters, and not nearly as good. Then I watched the trailer on MGM's site, and there was definitely some stuff there that wasn't in what I saw last night. So I'm sorry I didn't get to see it in a theater, but even so, I liked what I saw. And I don't feel like I would have liked the theatrical release significantly more than I did the DVD, but of course I have no idea. There might well be some other DVD version I could watch, but... even though I thought the version I saw was pretty funny, I feel no need to ever see the movie again, even in an extended cut.

Anyway. So it's 2010. There are three friends who went to high school together: Adam (John Cusack), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Lou (Rob Corddry). They're all dissatisfied with their lives. Then one night, Lou apparently tries to kill himself (he later denies it, and it's unclear whether it was intentional or just a drunken accident). But anyway, Adam and Nick visit him in the hospital, and surprise him with a trip to Kodiak Valley Ski Resort, which they used to visit in their youth. Joining the trio is Adam's nephew, Jacob (Clark Duke). The resort is pretty run down, now. But they end up in their old room, and there's a hot tub outside. And they drink a lot while they're using it. And it malfunctions, and the next morning they find themselves in 1986 (where everyone else sees them as their high school selves; Jacob appears normal, since he wasn't alive yet, though he does sometimes nearly flicker out of existence).

So... there's lots of nods to 80s pop culture and cliches, including some things that are reminiscent of Back to the Future (like Jacob wanting to make sure he gets born, since he was conceived on this weekend, though he doesn't know who his father was- which is an important plot point). In another nod to BTTF, Crispin Glover has a recurring role as a bell hop or whatever, who in 2010 is missing an arm, and now (in a running gag) Lou very much wants to see how he loses it. There is some disagreement about whether they should try to do things exactly as they did on this night the first time around, to preserve history (in spite of all the terrible things that happened the first time), or else try to change their destinies. There was also a hot tub repair man (played by Chevy Chase), who put me in mind of Don Knotts in Pleasantville, though I imagine there are any number of characters from other movies who he was based on. (It always seemed like he knew what was going on with the time travelers, but he was never really clear about it, much to Jacob's annoyance.)

I don't want to give away any more of the plot than that, but I will say that while none of it really made much sense, if you just suspend disbelief and roll with the premise, it's actually really funny. One of the very rare raunchy movies that I actually like, perhaps because it's largely a send-up of such movies, so it works on an ironic level. And of course, all the stars were good. And... I dunno, everything about it was pretty cliched, including the plot threads that passed for drama (which were still mostly played comically), but I liked all the cliches, anyway. There was even one revelation that I totally predicted, and hoped wouldn't happen, but when it did, I liked it. Anyway, eventually... we see everyone back in 2010 again. And the way things turned out was good. I don't think there was anything I didn't like about the movie, even if it wasn't really great....

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