MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Trailer
'Hot Tub Time Machine' and 'Snakes On A Plane' are in competition for the best movie title ever. Both draw equal attention from the general public based on the absurdity of their respective titles, then hope that curious viewers will stick around to see if the movie is worth watching. Overall, audiences answered that question quickly, as neither had huge box office success ('Hot Tub Time Machine' had a final tally of around $50 million and 'Snakes On A Plane' finished up with $34 million). While 'Snakes On A Plane' really fizzled with its DVD sales, 'Hot Tub Time Machine' has the potential to find a cult following on DVD and blu-ray. So, forget what you know about time travel, throw out that old flux capacitor, and hop in the hot tub – it's retro party time.
How many times have you stated 'If I only knew then what I know now…' and wished you could go back and change some of the events in the past? Three childhood buddies are given that very chance as director Steve Pink (who is also the writer of 'Grosse Point Blank' and 'High Fidelity') takes vintage 80's throwback comedy and thrusts it into 2010. The three friends are Adam (John Cusack), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Lou (Rob Corddry). They go to their favorite resort to reminisce about the good old days when their only priorities were getting drunk and getting laid. Adam brings his nephew Jacob (Clarke Duke) along for the ride as a rite of passage into manhood. The trip begins with disappointment and the foursome find themselves warped to 1986 via a hot tub that doubles as a time machine. So here they are, facing the same people and choices from one of their most memorable weekends. Will they stick to the plan of keeping things 'the same' for 2010 or will they tweak their lives by getting to apply today's knowledge to yesteryear?
'Hot Tub Time Machine' is not meant to be taken seriously. The absurd plot is part of the film's charm. All four of the leads hold their own with a unique blend of comedy that mirrors (but is very different from) 'The Hangover'. Fans of 80's comedies (especially those that starred John Cusack) will find the film has a familiar, nostalgic feeling that is amped up with some of the raunch that we find in comedies today. There are plenty of laughs at the expense of the 80's. Rather than cop out and simply make fun of the decade, 'Hot Tub Time Machine' uses inside references and finds a way to blend it into a laughable situation. The film takes all of the fond memories from 80's comedies and presents an updated version of what fans of the era would expect. Couple this nostalgia with a pitch perfect cast and there is an underrated gem here. The four leads are outstanding in their respective roles, but Crispin Glover deserves a special nod for his turn as a one armed bellhop. He steals every scene he is in and shows audiences (yet again) that he deserves every second of screen time he is awarded. 'Hot Tub Time Machine' isn't going to make any top ten lists, but it will be looked on fondly by those who decide to give it a spin.
There is only one thing that can make the horrendous style from the 80's look good – blu-ray. There are bold colors EVERYWHERE in this film and the 1080p/AVC encoded transfer finds detail in every last one of them. When totally outrageous outfits aren't on display, the movie still maintains a sharp, crisp look that is expected from the format. This is most noticeable on close up shots where every wrinkle or skin texture is very detailed. I'm sure some members of the cast are less than thrilled that the blu-ray format shows how much they have aged since the 80's. Great transfer.
With all of the music in 'Hot Tub Time Machine', you would expect the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio transfer to explode from the speakers and fill the room with some sweet 80's sound. The good news is – it does. Taking the multiple genres of music from a specific era of time, the dynamic range covers the deep bass of hip-hop, hair band's heavy metal guitar, and synth music with ease. The music puts the viewer in the party. The rear channel is also used during effects, but sparingly otherwise. The dialogue level is fine as well. The blend of music and dialogue is great, so there are no issues with actors being drowned out by their surroundings.
Would someone please hop in a hot tub, go back in time, and tell MGM to add more extra features to this disc? After a fun movie with a great audio and video transfer, it almost hurts to discuss the minimal special features. The highlight is just under twelve minutes of deleted/extended/alternate scenes in 1080p. After seeing the movie, there is no doubt where these fall in the timeline and it is pretty obvious why they hit the cutting room floor. There are some laughs during the scenes, but nothing that deserves a spot in the final cut. Then there are four Theatrical Promotional Spots that are in 1080p. These are spots that would be seen by people who show up early to a movie theater and watch whatever plays before the trailers. There are six and a half minutes here and each of the spots focuses on a different aspect of the movie. They are a little spoiler heavy (even for a straight forward comedy), but offer a little insight from the actors along with scenes from the film. Finally, the 1080p theatrical trailer is included on the disc.
Steve Pink brings a different feel to the genre that will probably find its core audience on DVD/Blu-Ray. If you get a chance to see this flick, go for it. You will walk away with a smile on your face and a renewed interest in 80's comedies. The blu-ray has a radical video transfer and bitchin' audio, but the bogus extra features bring this disc down in a major way. All in all, I would recommend the disc. I doubt there will be a double dip opportunity and the movie has great replay value.