Rewind Review: Hot Tub Time Machine
As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
When you set out to see a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine you have to, absolutely no exceptions, expect to be in for a very stupid experience. Not that a film being stupid is inherently bad. The same holds true for an intelligent film. Quality and intellectual stimulation are not mutually exclusive. What remains to be seen when dealing with such a film is if it’s a funny kind of stupid or just stupid. More often than not, unfortunately it ends up being the latter.
One of the examples of this stupidity that just misses the mark is the character of the Repair Man played by Chevy Chase. Now I am not one of those people who disowned Chase after the 1980s, the problem in fact isn’t his performance but his character. Granted there are jokes made to the effect that his dialogue is vague and not very helpful but ultimately his repeated appearance becomes a hinderance to the story. Instead of watching to see if these characters can replicate the past they are now in we get distracted by his repeatedly reminding us of his existence. The more he appears without answering questions about how to get back to the present the more questions you ask yourself about his character and thinking about such things in a film like this is the death knell for said work.
The fact of the matter is with a plot like this the film has to be extraordinarily funny and it just isn’t. You will laugh out loud on occasion but there isn’t a constantly great peal of laughter throughout. Funny but not very funny just doesn’t cut it. When it comes to comedy that’s what it boils down to and when you’ve had time to consider all these other things clearly the film wasn’t always doing its job.
The era traveled to is also treated with a bit of ambivalence in the end product. Clearly the intention is to mock and spoof the 1980s, which has been done and it’s fine. More than most decades it’s an easy target, however, aside from the red scare that the time travelers incur none of it seems real or funny and even that is more like a parody than anything else. Aside from the age of the characters there was nothing that made it have to be set in the ’80s and costume aside you didn’t see the decade’s influence in the rest of the tale. There are just so much more jokes from the reality of that era that could have been mined as it did plenty of times to make jokes about things that happened after 1986.
What was refreshing was to see a new spin on time travel and the butterfly effect, including what I interpreted to be a sarcastic comment about the film of the same name, handling both concepts in a comedy allowed for a comedic and different approach to conceptions which are always looked upon with reverence and awe.
The quality of dialogue in this film is inconsistent. Even when things work they at times go too far. The “Great White Buffalo” line is clearly designed as an inside joke that one of the characters isn’t supposed to get and with repetition we realize we’ll know the gist but not the story behind how that started it just comes up too often. Similarly while the dialogue about the carving in a desk drawer that makes them realize they’ve gone back in time is funny Lou can see the drawer is clean and needn’t ask about each accusation he carved about Adam and whether it is present.
At the start of the film we get a very good start to differentiating these characters but their development from thereon in is stunted and this isn’t a funny enough film to survive with such superficial characterization. Hot Tub Time Machine is a film with a title and concept that immediately makes one think that “It’s so crazy it just might work” but it doesn’t.