Hot Tub Time Machine (Blu-ray)
Knowing the basic premise of HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, you’ll probably guess that jokes about the 80’s are going to run rampant throughout. You’d be right in that assumption because most of the best laughs in the film revolve around the main characters either making fun of the decade or working in a joke where they know something about the future the others do not. Although some might complain about that, the truth is that the 80’s are ripe for jokes and just setting your movie in that decade is going to make it funny. Would anyone have enjoyed THE WEDDING SINGER had it been set in present day? Thankfully, the filmmakers played up the 80’s gag while at the same time inserting enough comedy to keep it rolling and keep the audience laughing.
After a failed suicide attempt of one of their friends, three guys get together and take their troubled friend to their old partying grounds on a ski resort. But time has not been kind to their old party place and now it’s a run down hole in the wall. Luckily, there’s a hot tub and so the gang hops in and gets plastered while wishing their lives had turned out differently. As you know from the title, the hot tub is also a time machine and the gang awakens to find themselves in 1986. While there, they have to decide if they want to change their future, or keep everything exactly as it was.
The story itself is completely far fetched, but there were a couple of things they could have done to make it a little smoother. First, Chevy Chase’s Repairman acted as the guide on the journey, but he was more confusing than anything and didn’t serve much of a purpose, other than to give the group a reason to get their deeds done before dawn. What I didn’t like was the gang’s initial decision to be careful not to change anything in fear of altering the future. This didn’t last long, but it felt like an unnecessary plot point and things didn’t get funny until they decided to change the future. I would have liked more time with the gang trying to live the perfect night of their youth and less time with them worrying about how the future was going to unfold.
As for the 80’s gags, there were plenty, ranging from the obvious 80’s background music to the subtle wardrobe choice of John Cusack wearing his trench coat from SAY ANYTHING. But the funniest part of the film was Rob Corddry, who was seemingly told to let loose and go crazy with this role. He did a great job and had some of the best comedic dialogue we’ve seen in a while. I haven’t really liked him in anything before this, so it was a nice treat to watch him hit this out of the park. Cusack and Craig Robinson played their typical characters with Robinson almost playing the exact part he played in ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO. But it works for him, so there’s no reason to change it up.
We’ve seen some of the time-traveling gags before in movies like AUSTIN POWERS, but they work again here because the four characters are pretty likeable. We accept their outrageous circumstances almost immediately, and we begin to care about their plights. It helps that the gags keep coming and although some were obvious, most were clever enough to make for some original comedy. It’s also impossible to watch this film only once and catch all the 80’s references. John Cusack alone digs at his 80’s resume several times, each time making the film that much more enjoyable.
Video: Fox delivers a great video transfer with even the 80’s wardrobes looking good on this Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was also impressive and this comedy used the surround channels more than most comedies to the fullest effect.
Deleted Scenes (11:45): A lot of these are extended cuts, but they’re worth the time. Rob Corddry does some nice improv and several other scenes add in a few gags.
Mini-Featurettes (6:34): I wasn’t sure what to call these since all of them are so short. They’re listed separately on the back cover, but they shouldn’t have been. None of these offer any information about the film and feel like they were made for marketing purposes.
Overall, I’m disappointed with the special features on this disc. Every comedy, especially one like this, has a ton of extra scenes with actors improv-ing various scenes. It would have been nice to get some of those gags on this disc. And how about a group commentary with the gang cracking each other up?