To enjoy a time travel movie, you gotta put aside the inevitable probe on how the time travel paradox will come to jinx your enjoyment. One of my favourite time travel movies have got to be Back to the Future, and hey, Crispin Glover is cast in this film as well, in what would possibly be the funniest character given the responsibility to carry on and sustain his own running gag through the narrative, which speaks wonders of the actor's impeccable comic timing.
As with Time Travel films, the premise can go two ways. The first involves the protagonists (or victims if you will) having to pursue just one sole objective, and that's to head home. Everything is done deliberately to avoid upsetting the space-time continuum. The other will involve a purposeful change so that the future can be swung in favour, though this comes with a degree of danger since the next jump back to the future may turn things into something not quite expected. Alternate realities come into play, and if one only has a single chance to make things right, then it's that tremendous leap of faith to be taken.
Which is what Hot Tub Time Machine is all about, with the titular machine being the means to journey back in time, given an opportunity for the characters to either act out their history faithfully to avoid any drastic change, which means to revisit some painful teenage issues all over again, or grasp that opportunity to make bold changes, since life has given them a second chance to try and make things right. This is the dilemma with which the characters grapple with, in between jokes coming out of their past lives being revealed to the audience to elicit laughter.
John Cusack heads the pack as Adam the unofficial ringleader of the group of unsuspecting travellers who head back to the 1980s by accident (or otherwise, since Chevy Chase's cameo has a hand in this as well). He's an insurance agent who's getting nowhere in life, and is reeling from a recent breakup. His nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) the nerd who lives Adam's basement addicted to Second Life, is the brains behind the quartet whose very existence is hanging in the balance because he's in a time where he's not born yet, so anything that doesn't go according to plan, may end up with him disappearing forever.
Then there's Nick Webber (Craig Robinson) the one time band member who had given up his dream for his wife, only to find himself being one hen-pecked kind of guy, and with any group, there's the obligatory crude loudmouth, with Rob Corddry playing Lou as the representative, and resident horny, alcoholic bastard whose idea of a good time is a threesome, gambling, and just about every vice you can think of. Needless to say, this explosive time-bomb of a character is probably the one who will get you to laugh at, and laugh along with his antics. That, and together with what director Steve Pink found it hard not to do each time the characters pass by a mirror - to show their CG-ed youthful selves to great hilarity.
The usual themes about the value of friendship and selfishness within the group members get explored, especially since they each have their own agenda and mission to complete, and find themselves being at conflict with their personal demons. For those who grew up in the 80s, this film will give you that extra bang for the buck since the soundtrack is full of 80s music, and the visuals here will immediately transport you back to that era, with just about every production set screaming at you for attention as nostalgia starts to kick in. References come fast and furious as well, so you're likely to have a field day to catch them all.
Hot Tub Time Machine doesn't go for the cerebral, instead it kept things simple, and made them fun. There's no big plot twist and no big revelation, offering an easy form of escapism and to allow you to wonder just what you would want to change, or not, should you suddenly find yourself transported back when you're having that bath. With friends. Pissed drunk.