Hot Tub Time Machine: Unrated (Blu-ray)
Directed by Steve Pink
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 99/100 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: June 29, 2010
Review Date: June 30, 2010
A quartet of losers undergo a cathartic experience and emerge better men. It sounds like a buddy comedy we’ve seen a thousand times before, and Steve Pink’s Hot Tub Time Machine plays just as tired as it sounds. With all of the expected gross out situations being performed in lockstep, an uninspired quartet of leading men (you know you’re in trouble when the best and most anticipated performance in a film is from a cameo performer), and flat, droning comic timing for the gags by the director, Hot Tub Time Machine is a passable idea being given a pretty pathetic execution. It’s not a complete strikeout, but it swings and misses more often than it connects.
After a failed suicide attempt, Lou (Rob Corddry) becomes part of an intervention by occasional friends Adam (John Cusack) and Nick (Craig Robinson) and Adam’s young nephew Jacob (Clark Duke). They return to the Silver Peaks Lodge, site of many awesome times for the trio when they were younger, but the old place isn’t what it used to be. Still, after requesting that the old hot tub on their terrace be repaired, the four of them have a drunken night of excess in the tub only to find when they awaken that they’ve been transported back to 1986 to a momentous weekend in all of their lives. Convinced they’re there to observe how they screwed up their futures by the events of this weekend, the quartet takes great pains to recreate events as they happened twenty-four years before. That means some nasty experiences for the three adults to relive, something none of them want to do but are afraid if they don’t, the future might be changed to something catastrophic.
Within the first ten minutes of the film, we can start ticking off the requisite gross out gags: poop and piss jokes come first, and then vomit, fart, and gay panic yocks follow. Except they aren’t yocks; they’re yucks. There isn’t anything remotely funny about any of that, and the fact that screenwriters Josh Heald, Sean Anders, and John Morris inserted them at all is testament to the low opinions they have of their audience. There are some funny gags: Crispin Glover plays the surly, right-arm-missing bellboy Phil in the future scenes, and since he has his arm in the 1986-set sequences, his every appearance makes for a delicious sight gag: is this the moment where he famously loses that arm? The writers and director milk the joke for all it’s worth, and it works every single time, by far the best and most sustained comic sequences in the movie. Elsewhere, sloppiness prevails. There are numerous continuity errors involving blood from a nose and shaving soap on a face that appear and disappear in successive shots, and throwing in some saccharine platitudes on the meaning of friendship near the film’s conclusion seems a desperate ploy to add a little heart to the farcical proceedings. It falls as flat as most of the jokes in this strained and mostly unfunny comic calamity.
John Cusak spends more time brooding than being funny, and Craig Robinson, who’s given an inordinate amount of screen time for so monotonous a performer, is tiresome. Rob Corddry practically bursts a blood vessel attempting to make something funny out of his every line or movement, mostly to lame effect though one does admire the effort even when it doesn’t work very often. The love objects are of negligible interest except that, in typical buddy movie style, we get to see lots of bare chests from the ladies. Sebastian Stan plays a bully who inflicts beating after beating on Corddry (this stretches the ratiocination of the entire enterprise), and Chevy Chase pops up from time to time as the mysterious hot tub repairman without adding much in the way of comic ebullience.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color is deeply saturated, but flesh tones are often too brown and unnatural. Contrast is perhaps dialed up a little high resulting in color that runs too hot most of the time (perhaps done deliberately to exaggerate the outrageous 1980s fashions). Sharpness is excellent. Black levels aren’t as deep as possible, but are satisfying in most cases with good shadow detail. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is somewhat surprising in its depth and expanse. There is a good deal of deep base in the music used in the film, so your subwoofer will not get the night off, and there are a decent number of split surround effects involving the supernatural elements of the movie which are pretty impressive. Dialogue has been well recorded and resides properly in the center channel.
All of the bonus features and trailers are presented in 1080p.
The disc offers both the theatrical and unrated versions of the movie from which to choose at start-up. There is about 90 seconds of different material from one version to the other, but the review is based on the unrated version.
There are nine deleted/extended scenes, but they have been put together in a single montage running for 11 ¾ minutes. They may not be selected separately, but the skip button will take you to the next deleted scene.
The theatrical trailer runs for 2 ½ minutes.
There are four very brief EPK promotional spots:
- “Production: Acting Like Idiots” (1 ½ minutes) has the leading actors discussing their roles.
- “Chevy Chase: The Nicest Guy in Hollywood” (1 ¾ minutes) finds the cast and Mr. Chase discussing his role and his comic “legend.”
- “Totally Radical Outfits: Dayna Pink” ( 1 ½ minutes) features costume designer Dayna Pink discussing her choices for the 1980s section of the film.
- “Crispin Glover: One Armed Bellhop” (1 ½ minutes) showcases the character actor discussing his running gags in the film.
Disc two in the set is the digital copy of the film. Enclosed are directions for installation on Mac and PC devices.
2.5/5 (not an average)
Not much in the way of a goofy comedy, Hot Tub Time Machine has a few really funny gags surround by a lot of failed farce and predictable buddy comedy clichés. Interested persons would likely do better with a rental than a purchase of the title as the replay value wouldn’t seem to be very high.