Movies: Hot Tub Time Machine

Presenting one of the funniest movies of the 1980s.

The Pitch:

Three 40-year-old high school friends try to reclaim their adolescence by returning to the mountaintop party resort of their youth. After a drunken night in the now-crumbling retreat’s hot tub, the group is inexplicably transported to the town’s 1986 prime—as their 17-year-old selves. After battling their fears of changing the future, they come to see this as a chance to rewrite their middling lives.

The Highs:

Picture a randy teen comedy clad in day-glo, but consistent with today’s improved hindsight and looser decency standards. Why John Cusack stopped doing this kind of movie remains one of the late-20th century’s great mysteries. Teaming him with contemporary comic vanguards Corrdry and Robinson is equal parts welcome and unexpected as the three relive the social, sexual, and Soviet fears of the era. Eighties staples Chevy Chase, Crispin Glover, and William Zabka serve as more than anachronistic set pieces, while the soundtrack digs deep for what endemic tunes were left on the carcass of the decade after countless VH1 specials and Now That’s What I Call Music compilations.

The Lows:

Owing perhaps to the broadcast-inappropriate bawdiness of the movie’s every minute, TV spots and advance trailers make it look like a Rob Schneider comedy; don’t worry, it isn’t. Otherwise, an ironically clumsy Cusack romantic subplot, an extraneous and protracted epilogical round-up of each character’s fate, and numerous reminders of the ways in which the ‘80s were f**king terrible round out the list of grievances.

Bonus Social Repercussion:

The flick officially establishes 40 as the new 30, reaffirming the reluctance of our nation’s men to grow up in any discernible way!