HOT TUB TIME MACHINE

Overall Impression – Inside this raunchy, foul-mouthed comedy is a sweet movie.  Somewhere.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who’s your main character? – Adam

What’s he trying to accomplish? – Professional: Get back to 2010 from 1986.  Personal: Be a good friend to crazed, alcoholic Lou.  Private: Pull his life together and learn that some things just can’t be controlled.

Who’s trying to stop him? – Blaine, the ski patrol jock (although Blaine is after Lou more than he is after Adam.)

What happens if he fails? – They get stuck in the past and Jacob, his nephew (who technically hasn’t been born yet) phases out (aka, dies).

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Adam’s girlfriend has just moved out, leaving Adam with a very nice but fairly denuded apartment.  He’s got his shut-in nephew staying with him and a couple of sad-sack friends whom he isn’t close with.

Wanderer – After a drinking binge in a faulty hot tub, Adam, his friends, and nephew end up in 1986.  There is the usual wandering around, first to figure out what has happened, then to figure out what they need to do to fix the situation, all the while prodded on their way by the mysterious hot tub repairman who knows more than he’s saying.

Warrior – Upon learning what they need to do, the three set out to recreate the events of their night together in 1986 that has supposedly led to their current state of sad-sackiness.  They each have middling and modulated success doing this, until finally they’ve defeated the ski patrol jock and prepare to get back to 2010.

Martyr –   Lou realizes that he can change his future by staying in the past (betting on games he knows the outcome to and inventing that ubiquitous search engine, ‘Lougle’)  and Adam, not wishing to abandon his friend again is willing to stay with him even though he doesn’t want to live through the same twenty years all over again.  Lou sacrifices having his best buddy around by tossing Adam into the newly repaired hot tub (time machine!).  Even the ski patrol has a little martyr moment at the end, giving up their revenge against Lou, Adam, et al in order to save someone’s arm in one of the most over-the-top comedy runners of recent memory.

AND, IN THE END…

And the winner of the most F-words in a single movie goes to…

It’s probably not the winner, but it’s gotta be in the top ten.  At the very least, an honourable mention of some kind.  And not to be prudish, but this was a case where the overuse of foul language didn’t punctuate the movie, it defined the experience of watching it.  The over-application of the F Bomb actually interfered with what could have been a funnier, more satisfying movie.

To compare, THE HANGOVER, with its 78 F-words and its derivatives (according to www.kids-in-mind.com) managed to make me laugh with guilty pleasure.   HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (191 F-words and its derivatives) just made feel guilty.  The unfortunate thing is that there really is a good, kind-hearted story in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, however my first memory after seeing the movie is neither the story nor the jokes (those memories come later) but apologizing to my wife and the other couple with whom I saw the movie for not investigating it more carefully before suggesting we see it.

The odd thing is that the more I think about the movie, the more moments I remember liking.  It’s both a shame that they got buried in an avalanche of foul language as well as a cautionary warning to writers and producers.

I’m not the first person to compare HOT TUB TIME MACHINE to THE HANGOVER, and their respective box office takes are: after 13 weeks in release,HOT TUB TIME MACHINE is at $40 million dollars.  THE HANGOVER, at 13 weeks, was at $163 million dollars.  Obviously there are many different factors that explain the relative success between movies, but one certainly cannot rule out the possibility that the pervasive, unnecessary foul language is a much bigger turn off than a turn on.

– Jeffrey Alan Schechter

2 Responses to “HOT TUB TIME MACHINE”

  1. rob lear April 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    The Hangover had a better premise, simple but high concept. I loathe these convenient time machine setups, it’s so easy and lazy. Why not a hot dogcart time machine or a microwave time machine, you get hot noodles while dealing with the black plague.

  2. Rebecca October 13, 2011 at 3:16 am #

    I really enjoyed The Hangover (and The Hangover 2). I wouldn’t compare it to Hot Tub Time Machine, which seemed like a poor excuse to make a comedy that fell flat. I think the title shows just how uninspired this movie is. It’s about a time machine – in a hot tub – and the concept goes no further than that. And the cheap F bombs made it too shameful to enjoy, as Jeffrey said. They better not be making a sequel… :/

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