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“Hot Tub Time Machine” is named “Hot Tub Time Machine,” and that's pretty much all you need to know about its seriousness as a cinematic venture. If you're the kind of person who's not into seeing movies called “Hot Tub Time Machine,” then a movie called “Hot Tub Time Machine” is not going to be worth your $7.50. But if instead the idea of a movie so nakedly goofy (and, more than a few times, goofily naked) that it actually calls itself “Hot Tub Time Machine” appeals to you, then this might be your catnip. Hell, at least it's funnier than “Snakes on a Plane.”
The hot tub time machine in “Hot Tub Time Machine” begins as a regular ol' hot tub full of naked dudes. One is an insurance-salesman mope named Adam (John Cusack), whose girlfriend just left him — and even took the TV! He and his buddy Nick (Craig Robinson, who has the greatest innate comedic talent of this bunch) and their depressive alcoholic friend Lou (“Daily Show” alum Rob Corddry, as subtle here as a tornado siren) all schlep it to a ski lodge to relive their epic ski/drink/screw weekends of their late teens. Adam's nephew, Jacob (Glenwood's own Clark Duke), can scarcely be pulled away from his laptop long enough for Lou to hurl verbal abuse at him, but even he knows when to drop trou and slide into a hot tub. Booze! Colors! Spinning! Oh, damn, this hot tub just took everyone back to the '80s. It must be a hot tub time machine!
If previous time-travel movies and Ray Bradbury short stories have taught us anything, it's that you must practice utmost care once you go back in time to 1986 (Or is that 1987, when John Elway in fact led “The Drive” that plays on live TV at a bar? Get your NFL history right, “Hot Tub Time Machine”). As a quasi-magical hot tub repairman (Chevy Chase) goes about servicing the hot tub, which we remind you is also a time machine, the men set about reenacting the events of that long-ago weekend in order to thwart chaos theory and hold the present intact. For Adam, this means re-dumping a girlfriend he has long pined for; Nick must boff a groupie, despite his being happily married (though in 1986, he reminds himself, his wife is only 9); Lou has to take a couple of ass-whippings from a turtlenecked ski patrol goon.
Naturally some things go to plan, some things go awry, and in the end everyone is better for having gone through the hot tub time machine. If we grant newbie director Steve Pink the benefit of the doubt, he has managed to infuse a semblance of a living thought onto the script (by three screenwriters, incidentally). Here we are in a major recession in which 70 percent of the jobs lost were formerly held by men. This is a grim time for dudes, especially those who didn't start heading for high ground before their 40s, and the “Hot Tub Time Machine” notion of a hot tub time machine looks pretty appealing. If it weren't for the Scorsesian quantity of f-bombs, this would be a fine flick to watch on Spike TV between jobs and completely stoned.