dir. Steve Pink
Patton Oswalt has called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the best movie title ever. Because it is so descriptive, this title creates a movie in your head before you even see the thing. You know exactly what to expect. Like Oswalt, I have long been a fan of to-the-point movie names. Screw such coy, wishy-washy, enigmatic titles as Rumor Has It, It's Complicated, and Something's Gotta Give. If you want me to see your movie, tell me something that can allow me to create a mental picture.
Of course, there are also numerous instances of descriptive, mental-picture-inducing titles that have nothing to do with the actual movies. Imagine the disappointment of the hordes of D & D playing, Tolkien aficionados who went into William Friedkin's Sorcerer expecting, oh I don't know, actual sorcerers, but instead were treated to the most bad-ass, fist-clenching, edge of your seat thriller (not to mention one of the best remakes) that the seventies produced. [Seriously, if you haven't seen it already, watch Sorcerer.] If Friedkin had instead named his movie, Morally Ambiguous Exiles and Fugitives Transport Highly Unstable Nitroglycerin Through Jungle Mountains instead, I'm sure the movie would have been a box-office smash. I'm a big believer in truth in advertising. If, for instance, you call your goddamn movie, goddamn Werewolves on Wheels you better motherfucking put more than five goddamn minutes of motherfucking werewolves on motherfucking wheels in the motherfucking goddamn movie.
This is why, of course, when I first heard about the upcoming movie Hot Tub Time Machine, I anticipated it like a motherfucker. Did this have the potential to be a colossally dumb Friedberg/Seltzer-esque abomination unto all that is good? Maybe. Who gives a shit—it's called motherfuckin' Hot Tub Time Machine.
Thankfully, Hot Tub Time Machine delivers on its title. It contains a Hot Tub Time Machine.
Although it attempts to induce memories in nostalgic Gen-Xers of such eighties cultural touchstones as Better Off Dead and Back to the Future, Hot Tub Time Machine follows the current comedy model of placing talented comedians on screen together and letting them riff off each other. How much this formula works in any given film depends on the performers' ad-libbing skills and on the viewers' desire to spend time with said actors. Fortunately the performers here (John Cusack, Clark Duke, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson) just happen to be a group of guys that I love seeing be funny. Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson are particular standouts. After a string of scene stealing parts in numerous recent comedy hits, it's nice to see Robinson have fun with such a substantial role.
Because of its purposefully hacky premise, sometimes juvenile (yet hilarious) vulgarity, and jokes relying on 80s nostalgia, it's unlikely that Hot Tub Time Machine (unlike the movies it references) will have much of a shelf life. Still, it sure made me laugh like hell. It passes the comedy test and it's certainly not a bad way to spend an hour and a half. It's exactly what I was expecting, and I love it for that.