A lukewarm comedy outing - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

A lukewarm comedy outing

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Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 11:00 pm

'Hot Tub Time Machine'

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. Rated: R. 2 stars.

Time travel can happen in the strangest places.

In "Back to the Future," it happened in a superfast DeLorean. In "Somewhere in Time," all it took was an old penny and an antique suit to get the job done. And on "Lost" … well, who really knows how it happens on "Lost"?

Now, we have the hot tub.

In the latest bromantic comedy, "Hot Tub Time Machine," three estranged friends and a geeky nephew go on a journey of self-discovery via a magical Jacuzzi. That hot tub transports the guys to 1986, a time when they were all best buds and spandex, hair spray and Poison ruled supreme.

In case you're wondering: Yes, this is the most ridiculous premise for a movie, ever. And, if it starred a bunch of unknown teens, there's no way anyone outside of college would go see it.

But the cast of "Hot Tub Time Machine" is not unknown.

It actually stars two very good comics, Craig Robinson of "The Office" and Rob Corddry who used to be on "The Daily Show." Clark Duke, the charming Gen-Y'er from the TV show "Greek" is also in it. And, most puzzling of all, John Cusack.

John Cusack, the very same guy who stole your heart as Lloyd Dobler in "Say Anything," is now Adam, a guy trying to escape 1986 without getting a plastic fork plunged in his eye.

Adam is a 40-something exec who has just been dumped. He's estranged from his high-school friends mostly because Lou (Corddry) is an annoying drunk and Nick (Robinson) has an overbearing wife. Adam also lives with his nephew, Jacob (Duke), a kid who would rather play hours of Second Life than talk to actual humans.

After Lou ends up in the hospital, the guys cheer him up by taking him on a weekend ski trip. Turns out the ski resort is now a wasteland, so they end up drinking too much in a hot tub. When they sober up, guess what? It's 1986.

There are some laugh-out-loud moments, for sure. But it's easy, nostalgic humor about oversized cell phones and how Kid 'n Play are really two different people. In the spirit of "The Hangover," it's also raunchy, though not as clever or charming. (Well, besides Corddry's soap-on-the-face joke, which can't really be discussed in a family newspaper.)

The seasoned actors do bring a strange kind of Hollywood heft, making this boy-centric movie less awful than it actually would be. Corddry and Robinson do riff well off each other, and it is mildly fun to see the usually serious Cusack go for the utterly ridiculous.

But in the end, the star power isn't quite enough to propel "Hot Tub Time Machine" into being the next "Hangover." At best, think of it as the next "Porky's."

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