Hot Tub Time Machine is an absurdly hilarious trip back into the retro, glam-rock world of the 1980s. Filled with thermal leg warmers, over-sized metal hair and approximately 100 minutes of continuous comedic vulgarity, the movie’s unoriginal plot and awkwardly hysterical raunchiness keeps the film afloat.
The movie isn’t for the faint of heart, or someone who wasn’t alive in the 80s or familiar with the time era. The movie begins with Lou (Rob Corddry) an alcoholic, Motley Crüe obsessed hot mess who almost kills himself while rocking out to the metal band in his closed garage while intoxicated. To prevent Lou from continuing a life full of drunken mistakes, Adam (John Cusack), a depressed insurance agent who has recently been dumped, his nephew Jacob (Clark Duke), a young videogame nerd, and Nick (Craig Robinson), a former musician turned dog groomer, travel back to Kodiak Valley, the place of their youth, with the promise of epic nights.
Once there, the group figures out that their hot tub is actually a time machine and has taken them back to 1986, reinstating their youthful exteriors and foul-mouthed, over-the-top exploits for a good party. Yet, Jacob, the youngster of the group, becomes enthralled by the fear of the “Butterfly Effect,” as he starts to flicker out of his corporeal state.
Fretting with the idea of never being born, Jacob pushes the group to live out the days exactly the same as they did before, even if it means that Lou has to get beaten up by a Karate Kid look-a-like and Nick has to cheat on his wife, in which Adam says it’s not cheating, since you’re technically not married yet. The movie becomes so ridiculous with straight edge raunchiness that it seems a lot had been edited out, and it seems as if the film was meant to be full of jokes and ridiculous scenarios despite a weak plot line.
The plot is easy to detect as the group tries to maintain each day exactly the same, meaning they will do everything completely different. Adam fears breaking up with his girlfriend who stabbed him in the eye with a fork back in the original 1986, and instead finds himself being broken up with and still getting stabbed in the eye with a fork. Nick still finds himself getting on the stage and performing, realizing that he has missed his true calling and Lou, after a drunken one-night stand, realizes that though he hates Jacob with a passion, he is his father and has saved Jacob from never being born.
‘The movie becomes so absurd at times, that it’s annoying that all the characters are too consumed with reconfiguring their destinies to decipher how they traveled back in time in the first place. Jacob seems to be the only one with his head screwed on right, as he figures out that the mysterious repairman who randomly shows up throughout the movie (Chevy Chase) is actually their magic mystery guide and holds the answer to how they return back to present day. In the end, the characters all make it home alive and find out that the hot tub time machine actually saved their lives.
Although, the movie can definitely be type casted as unoriginal — despite the interesting name — taking plot themes from Back to the Future, Pleasantville, Sixteen Candles and basically any 80’s movie, director Steve Pink gives the movie just enough backbone to make it relatable and borderline hilarious for anyone who finds dry humor, bodily fluids, purposed dude-on-dude scenes, foul language, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll mixed in with lots of alcohol, innocent squirrels and the 80’s funny.