Hot Tub Time Machine
d. Steve Pink / 2010 / USA / 99 min
Screen 3 @ Odeon (Norwich, UK)
I’m not really sure what to say about Hot Tub Time Machine, other than that it sucked the big one.
On second thoughts…
…surely everyone involved knew this was a giant pile of junk? And surely its some sort of elaborate ‘lets see how many witless fools actually pay to see this crap’ joke on the audience? (By the way, I saw a free preview, so my dignity remained more or less intact until the credits rolled and I realised I’d forgotten to walk out.) Oh well, the joke’s on them. I mean, what on Earth is to be gained from something with a nutritional value that amounts to roughly 3% ‘okay’ and 97% tedious, dull, unimaginative tripewater.
Clearly this is some sort of attempt to recapture the ‘glory days’ of the 1980s (he said, ironically), not just for the characters in the film, but also for its star and, most importantly, for its audience: vast swathes of way-past-cool Gen-Xers, now well on their way into middle-age and with more money than sense.
Leading the charge of the trite brigade (as star and producer) is John Cusack, a former ’80s hearthrob who briefly recaptured his cool at the turn of the last century with leads in Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999) and High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000), but followed it with a succession of such steaming turdpiles that now he seems to think that – despite what Yazz might have told him – the only way is back (to the future).*
Heck, whilst the last film I reviewed, Roman Polanski’s The Ghost, was a definite throwback to an older style of political thriller that might actually have some place in contemporary cinema, the feeble comedy of HTTM just feels sorely outdated. Unlike, say, The Hangover, which treads vastly similar MOC (male-orientated comedy) territory, HTTM doesn’t straddle the same lines of ‘oh-no-he-didn’t’ acceptability, largely because it simply just isn’t funny enough – and even when it is mildly amusing, it still comes across as feeble, unoriginal and waaaaaay below-par.
In one sense, I suppose HTTM is forgivable, considering there is a bit of a revisionist 1980s thing going around of late, but if the writing is generally unoriginal, this film’s return to the fashion, music and idioms of the time is equally sub-par. Littered with sledgehammer-blunt semiotics, HTTM presents a 1980s that is instantly reducible to jheri curls, legwarmers, Miami-Vice shirts and TAB.
And while HTTM does try its hardest to be cool and hip and self-aware, most notably in the vaguely funny moment when a character recites the film’s title before pausing to glare straight at the audience, the initial thoughts of our unwitting time-travelers about having possibly stumbled into some kind of lame ‘retro-weekend’ rings as true for them as it does for the whole darn audience, gawping at the screen with either bemused silence or idiotic glee.
Still, it’s better than Harry Brown.