Hot Tub Time Machine was an unexpected form of time machine and with a title like that I had to look into it more. Well I wrote a review on it. Not sure if it is something I will ever do again but I enjoyed the plot and carried on. Please do not read this if you want to avoid knowing the plot – see the film first. Anyway, I love the concept of the time machine and will be writing more on it I’m sure…
The first thing I must say, Hot Tub Time Machine is definitely not in the same league as H. G. Wells, but do not hold that against it. The writers Josh Heald, Sean Anders and John Morris came up with a catchy title that really says it all – it is a hot tub, it is a time machine. What more can you say? It enabled them to catch and compare the feel and morality of the eighties and give you a humorous story about friendship. The director Steve Pink has created the eighties in a way that should appeal and produce nostalgia in anyone between the ages of thirty and fifty, the Generation X’ers. Easily a cross between ‘Back To The Future’ and ‘The Hangover’ it is the story of three almost friends Adam, Lou and Nick who have serious life issues together with Adam’s post-teen nephew, Jacob. Throw out the time travelling and science textbooks with this film, in fact probably throw out the mathematics one too if you try to figure Jacob’s actual age, this film doesn’t take any of it seriously. They are transported to 1986 and trying to work out how to get out of it without changing history, or indeed Jacob’s existence, who was conceived in that year.
Rob Corddry the clown doctor, Dr. Blake Downs of Childrens’ Hospital and Ron Fox in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay plays an alcoholic loner, Lou. A party guy who never gets invited to any self respecting parties, who never grew up and becomes an annoyance to all his old friends. He has reached the low point in his life where he smashes his car into his garage and drunkenly tries to commit suicide from carbon monoxide intoxication. Lou is really the main character in this movie, totally obnoxious in the beginning, and actually for the most part of the movie, but we see the biggest change in his circumstances when he discovers that he really does have friends.
Craig Robertson who plays Darryl Philbin of the US version of ‘The Office‘ and has just completed “Shrek Forever After” plays Nick Webber-Agneu. He has a double barrelled name, henpecked to the point of including his wife Courtney Agneu’s (Kellee Stewart) surname as part of his own. He was the lead singer of a local band that never made an impression and was quickly forgotten. His job in the present as a veterinary surgeon reaches lows like having to pull out BMW keys from a poor limping dog brought in unlikable owners such as Thomas Lennon, who plays Lt. Jim Dangle from Reno 911. He is broken by the discovery of an email that shows that his wife has previously cheated on him, even though Nick is has been absolutely faithful to her.
John Cusack, who has just completed Shanghai and previously was Jackson Curtis in 2012 and also as the voice of Igor plays Adam. Adam’s relationship with his girlfriend has completely broken down and she has moved out and taken most of contents of their house. Adam’s love life has taken a complete dive and it always seems like he has picked the wrong partner to settle down with and Adam is preoccupied with the decisions he made that got him into this situation. Just as everything is going wrong he unfortunately has additional responsibilities, since Lou’s suicide attempt has put him in the position of having to be responsible and take care for him.
Clark Duke, who has just completed A Thousand Words and previously as Dale Kettlewell in the three years of the series Greek plays Jacob. He is Adam’s video game-obsessed nephew who spends most of his life virtually in Second Life in the basement of Adam’s home. Consider him as Generation Y and who never completely understands the experience of the eighties.
Another main character is a squirrel, who changes the timeline in such a way as to cause Lou serious problems, his role is as central as the gopher from Caddyshack.
They all take a trip to Kodiak Valley, now a disappointing run down snowy alpine town ski resort that has certainly hit hard times since they last went years ago, it has almost become a ghost town. They check into the same lodge, even the same room where they have had quite a few great times some 20 years before.
Helping them to their room is a bad tempered bellhop Phil, who once was a nice guy but now who since their first stay has lost an arm hates any assistance in getting their luggage to their room. Phil is played by Crispin Glover, who recently played Stayne in Alice in Wonderland and interestingly also played Marty’s father, George McFly.in 1985’s Back to the Future. There is an ongoing side plot in the film where Phil always seems to be in danger of losing his arm. Phil certainly could do with some Health and Safety training as we always catch him living dangerously. Of course, the worrying thing for the time travellers is that it always seems to survive.
Chevy Chase, who has just completed Jack and the Beanstalk and was Ty Webb in 1980’s Caddyshack plays the hot tub service man who is responsible for cleaning and or fixing the hot tub at any time. He is there to help get their hot tub cleaned of any animal carcasses, it seems, as if some raccoon tried the time machine earlier but died in the process.
When the time machine is activated, helped by the chemicals in some Russian energy drink it becomes a surreal experience. By getting absolutely drunk they forget about the guy who got in wearing a bear costume and the naked women that suddenly appeared in there with them.
They wake up in the hot tub, but they have no idea what has happened to them, it is now 20 years earlier, they are now in 1986 on the very day they went for the Winterfest ’86 music festival when they were younger. I wish my alarm clock had that facility for just an hour or two.
It wasn’t the fact that everyone seemed to be sporting retro fashions on the ski slope, it is the Winterfest ’86. It is the age of bright clothes, big hair and leg warmers. However it wasn’t this that proved to them that they had arrived earlier in time. It wasn’t even vague recognition of faces and people that were around 20 years before, or that all the programs on the TV were from the 80’s. Eventually with the suspicion of what could be happening Nick asks a girl if Michael Jackson was black or white. When she replies ‘he’s black’ this was proof positive of time travel which sends him screaming back to the room.
There is one feature of this time machine that is unique however; their bodies are 20 years younger – a big business opportunity there I think. Of course Jacob isn’t 20 yet so that causes his reality to be in question, his image in the mirror flickers strangely.
Sensibly they each start off trying to do everything the same as they did 20 years prior but one by one they succumb to the temptations of doing things differently.
Lou gets beaten up by Blaine and all his friends once again. Blaine is played by Sebastian Stan, who was Carter Braizen in the series Gossip Girl. Lou once again challenges him to a rematch, sadly last time he did this his friends didn’t turn up to support him and he gets severely beaten up. Nick promises to go with him this time but never makes it after his now brilliant performance at the show, only when it is too late he remembers that promise. Blaine however finds an iPhone, glasses and a Russian drink in the bag he stole from Lou during the fight and now thinks he is a Russian spy.
Lou does get into a bit of trouble by using his knowledge of the future and winning bets, but lost on the last one because he had changed events when he woke up in the hot tub and threw up over a squirrel. The same squirrel ran across the sports pitch of the AFC Championship Game, (which wasn’t played in 1986 but on January 11th 1987, but who cares.) and caused a touchdown in the last 37 seconds to never happen.
Nick needs to have sex with a groupie and have a terrible performance with his band to keep things the same in this timeline. The groupie, Tara, is played by Jessica Paré who has just completed Peepers and was Courtney Benedict in the series Jack and Bobby. Nick has a hard time following through when he is with Tara; he finds it really disturbing because he thinks he is being unfaithful to his wife. Nick really changes everything for him when he makes a brilliant performance playing some songs that haven’t even been written yet. However, with the memory of his wife cheating on him constantly playing on his mind when he gets a phone he snaps and calls her, screaming at her about how he found out that she was cheating on him – except of course, at this present time, his wife is only 9 years old.
Adam needs to break up with his beautiful first girlfriend, Jenny, who before stabbed him in the face in his right eye when he gave her the news. Jenny is played by Lyndsy Fonseca, who was the daughter in How I Met Your Mother and Dylan Mayfair in Desperate Housewives. Adam is the first to fail at sticking to the plan of keeping everything the same and decides to stay with Jenny. The stabbing was partly the reason why he failed to break up with her again and this convinces the others that they will change too. Ironically, the opposite happens, Jenny breaks up with him instead and Adams anger at this caused the same stabbing in the face to occur, by telling her she would get pregnant by some loser and get very fat. She became the brunt of the friends’ nickname of the ‘Great White Buffalo’.
Adam later has another chance meeting with April a music journalist, who was following the band. He had met her at the bar earlier but left her in an effort to stay with Jenny. April is played by Lizzy Caplan, who was Marlena Diamond in Cloverfield and Marla in Crossing Over. After the break up with Jenny he was feeling down and when April appears they really click and break into a house to spend time together. Adam confided in her about the time travel and they become intimate. Surprisingly she listens to the story about time travel and is very sympathetic towards Adam. I wonder if that is a normal reaction when you tell someone on your first date that you are from the future. Just as they hit it off the homeowners arrive.
Adam’s sister is there, Kelly (Collette Wolfe), who is Jacobs mum, and her sexual antics and behaviour certainly makes Jacob uncomfortable. Jacob is also very disturbed that the timeline is being changed because he is at risk of not being born. Lou is caught at one point in bed with Kelly by the others which stop them in mid-act; however this causes Jacob to disappear. They realise that Lou was therefore Jacob’s father and must let him continue. It becomes the moment in the man’s life when he has to be left alone to finish the job. This does bring back a rather disgusted Jacob back into existence.
All the friends decide in the end that they must go after Blaine, who has the Russian drink needed for the time machine and there only means of getting back, but Blaine catches them all by surprise. Lou really lays into Blaine this time and the whole thing is stopped when Nick uses the Russian Drink and pretends it is a bomb and they all manage to escape, chased by Blaine’s gang but they have the energy drink and the means to get home.
Finally Lou is the one who stays behind, forcibly pushing in Adam who after all became a true friend and wasn’t going to leave him alone.
On return what are the results of the changes they made?
They find a DVD player in the lodge that was made by Lou explaining the changes… plus copies of maps to their new homes were given by the bellhop.
The bellhop who lost his arm was helped by the Ski Patrol who this time were close by and got it put on ice and got him to the hospital in time where it was reattached.
Lou used the knowledge he had of the future to create a huge fortune, a yacht, a beautiful house and even his hair. In this timeline Google and Motley Crew were replaced by Lou using what he knew to create Lougle and Motley Lou. His marriage to Kelly, Adam’s sister, makes him a good father to Jacob. His work has also changed the lives of his friends.
Adam is married to April and now has a beautiful home.
Nick now has a faithful wife and is a very successful musician, even now the producer of a successful music studio ‘Webber Productions’. She received a prank call when she was 9 years old that really shook her up so much that she vowed she would never be unfaithful. She is now the receptionist of his studio. His name is now just Nick Webber.
Jacob still exists and has a great and rich life as Lou’s son.
The end credits had a song played over by Motley Crew called ‘Home Sweet Home’ from their ‘Theatre of Pain’ album – or was that Motley Lou? You can listen to some samples of the music in the movie at Amazon.com, or you can search for "Hot Tub Time Machine" (if you choose music instead of All Departments it is a little faster)