Hot Tub Time Machine
March 19, 2010
On the Big Board
||Riotously funny in parts, but slow in others. About what you'd expect from a movie based on a clever title.
||The running gag about Crispin Glover's arm is brilliant. I also love Motley Lue so much I bought the url.
||Amusing, Corddry finally made me laugh, but I feel like there was a lot of potential wasted here.
If you were told to be the title of this project, with no further information, you might reflect that there haven’t been all that many films to so boldly feature the words "hot" and "tub" in such close proximity. There was the 1984 teen sex comedy Hollywood Hot Tubs and its 1990 sequel Hollywood Hot Tubs 2: Educating Crystal. And that about covers it. You might surmise, based on the title, that this would also be a sex comedy and that since time travel is involved, perhaps a trip to the 1980s is in store for one or more (most likely) x chromosome characters? You sir and/or ma’am would be quite correct! But what about your interest in actually hearing the storyline, let alone seeing the finished product?
Wait, wait, come back!
The high-concept synopsis involves a trio of male buddies in the here and now revisiting a favorite ski lodge from their halcyon days of 1987. After a night of heavy drinking involving unfathomable amounts of Red Bull and vodka, the men are somehow transported by the titular device back to the day when they were apparently quite the cads and many raunchy hi-jinx ensued. Hey, if Bill and Ted can travel in a phone booth...
Screenwriter Josh Heald’s stated intent for his script was "awesomeness, through and through." Well, with a cast and director now assigned and production having begun, we will see how much of that awesomeness leaps off the page and onto the screen.
What promises to potentially elevate this from a smutty comedy to a quirky, offbeat, must-see, funny, smutty comedy is the fact that one-third of the acting trio consists of John Cusack and the director is his long-time writing partner Steve Pink. The pair collaborated on the screenplays for Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity and Pink made his directing debut with the 2006 college comedy Unaccepted. This is the first project they have worked on together in nearly a decade.
Pink and Cusack’s involvement instantly leads to all sorts of outlandish musings. Martin Q. Blank back in the 1980s? Rob Gordon revisiting his lost loves? Perhaps. But remember, Cusack was king of the off-beat underdog teen comedy back in the 1980s with the lead roles he played in titles like Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer and The Sure Thing and supporting roles in Sixteen Candles and Class. Could this be a chance to combine a "Where would those characters be 25 years later" with a sly dig back at some of his personas from that decade?
It’s been a long time since Cusack has played full-on aggressively goofy and weird. He has taken on more sentimental roles (Grace is Gone, Martian Child) and more conventional romantic comedies (Must Love Dogs and Serendipity) this decade but had one of the biggest hits of his career with a Stephen King adaptation (1408). It would be a joy to see Cusack embrace all the zaniness the plot has to offer and perhaps mock himself ridiculously at the same time. The sheer commerciality of this project - comic time-travel crossed with reliving one’s youth wish fulfillment – suggests the potential for a breakout hit or a steady sleeper a la the Paul Rudd/Jason Segel projects of late.
The supporting cast should not be ignored, either. Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson play Cusack’s fellow time travelers and the notion of the three of them riffing and ad-libbing is intriguing. Fellow ‘80s refugee and star of another time-travel series Crispin Glover has also joined the cast as the one-armed accident-prone bellhop at the lodge. Lizzy Kaplan from Cloverfield and many, many television shows has the only significant female role as a potential love interest for Cusack.
If nothing else, here’s hoping for an awesome one-sheet, a very funny trailer and the knowledge that John Cusack will have above-the-title listing for a film called Hot Tub Time Machine. (Brett Beach/BOP)