Film Review: Hot Tub Time Machine

21/04/2010

Perhaps the biggest achievement of Hot Tub Time Machine is that it cements Back to the Future as the quintessential time-travel movie. That’s not to say it is a bad film, merely that the influence of Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 classic is abundantly clear.

Oh, the 1980s. Such a wonderful decade. Adam (played by John Cusack) and friends inadvertently time-travel back to 1986, seemingly a year that fundamentally altered the course of their lives. The film follows the gang as they attempt to return to the present day without causing too much upset in as they run into old flames, friends, and enemies…

Hot Tub Time Machine is a very enjoyable film; the trailer does not illustrate some of the funnier moments in the film. The humour is a mix of parody, knowing references, and the gross-out comedy of films such as Animal House or American Pie.

Director Steve Pink does a good job of balancing this humour with more poignant moments that progress the film’s narrative. The allusions to other films are unmistakable, and Hot Tub Time Machine does the right thing in overtly mentioning some of them. The references stretch as far as casting, with Chevy Chase making an appearance, as well Crispin Glover, who appears in both the present and the past, in another nod to Back to the Future.

With an intertextual film that pays homage to the 80s such as this, it is surprising there is no covert reference to the fact that its leading man became a star in this very decade. Nonetheless, Hot Tub Time Machine works well to produce a feeling of nostalgia for those who remember the decade, and to offer a kitsch depiction to younger audience members well versed in 80s-retro  culture. Special kudos for the soundtrack too, which features an array of both well-known and cult 1980s tunes.

Sure, Hot Tub Time Machine is a corny film. The plot is predictable and the dialogue sometimes crass. But it is also extremely entertaining; surely the sole aim for a flick such as this.

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