There is pervasive, self-aware absurdity in the best film of 2010, Hot Tub Time Machine (HTTM). Its very title implies delivery via myriad cheeks with tongues firmly planted therein; so long as the viewer has proper expectations heading in, this movie should be the most enjoyable 100 minutes of the year.
I entered the theater simply wanting to perk up from my post-Greenberg suicidal depression. I think Old Yeller might have done the trick, but HTTM exceeded my every expectation. It was simply fun, yet just deep enough to make me feel like I didn’t just have a comedic lobotomy (a la Dumb and Dumber). We’re not shooting for Oscars here. Knowing silliness at this level of cinematic aspiration is perfectly acceptable.
Since seeing the film two weeks ago, I’ve intermittently bent my mind around the delicious metaphysical ramifications of John Cusack being in his own real imagined past. Let’s think about this. Dr. Cusack is playing a character that goes back in time to a time when John Cusack (the real guy…and the characters he played) was the king of all things germinating in the teen/celluloid nexus. I applaud the screenwriters and director Steve Pink for not beating this ironic brain-grappler into submission. I applaud Cusack for putting up such a solid performance so soon after 2012, which is incidentally the absolute worst film ever made. Yes, I saw Showgirls. No, I didn’t see the Sex & the City movie.
Three reasons to see HTTM:
- Rampant homage to Motley Crue, suggesting our filmmakers (Cusack himself was co-producer) thoroughly understand and lived through the 1980s. The Crue was the ‘80s. Big kudos to any readers who can post a comment identifying the name of Motley Crue’s fan club. I still have my original laminated ID card, circa 1984.
- Crispin Glover.
- It has a time machine, in the form of a hot tub. It seems like something the Wonder Twins might’ve come up with if they were partying around the campfire with Solomon Grundy.
I’m not a projectile-vomit kind of guy, but lest we forget, HTTM is a gross-out comedy targeted at modestly affluent but highly childish males of a certain age. I’m in the bullseye, so I suppose I’ll have to live with a few hackneyed tricks of the trade.
We all have an obsession with the past, whether we admit it or not, and this movie is about the indomitable human desire to go back and do things differently. What would you do with a do-over?
Personally, I would do a few things differently: play in the NBA, be friends with Jay-Z, invent Google (which I have in common with Rob Corddry’s character), etc.
One thing would stay the same: I would go see Hot Tub Time Machine, this time on its own merits, because I wouldn’t have taken in the soul-sucking antimatter of Greenberg this time around.