My sister and I watched a movie one Saturday night recently that was a tribute to a decade of fun pop music, colourful fashion and big beautiful hair. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke Jacob and Craig Robinson, takes us on the time-travelling journey with four men who have hit their own personal rock bottoms. The salve to their problems is a weekend away at Kodiak Valley – “K-Val”, where had nothing but a good time back in 1986. In the present day, after a night of drinking in the hot tub combined with a spilt can of energy drink called “Chernobly”, said hot tub mysteriously becomes “some kind of hot tub time machine!”, and the guys are sucked into the whirlpool back to 1986.
After waking up in the hot tub, the group emerges and heads out to the slopes, which are dotted with people wearing fluoro ski-suits and chatting on brick-sized mobile (or cordless) phones, to a Scritti Politti soundtrack (Perfect Way, 1986). After seeing MTV and former US President Ronald Reagan on a chunky 80s TV, the boys realise they are in fact, back in 1986. Catching a glimpse in a mirror, they realise they also have the youthful looks of 1986 too. (appearing their 40-something selves to us). Can they get through the weekend without permanently altering history? Should they dare fiddle with the time-space continuum? How do they get “back to the future” in a faulty hot tub?
It soon becomes apparent that Hot Tub Time Machine, co-produced by 80s teen star Cusack and directed by Steve Pink, is more than an affectionate nod to the 80s, it is a tribute to several iconic 80s teen movies. Back to The Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1986) starring Michael J.Fox, was the granddaddy of Hot Tub Time Machine, and it is referenced heavily in this movie. The talented and underrated Crispin Glover, who played the down-trodden George McFly in Back To The Future, plays a bell-hop at the ski-resort here, both in 1986 and in the 2010 setting. Chevy Chase, also a mainstay of 80s movies, stars here as “the repairman”, the older man who fixes the hot tub/time machine and helps the men get “back to the future”, in a similar way to “the professor” fixing the DeLorean in Back To The Future.
Fans of director John Hughes will also spot the references to 16 Candles (1984), in which Cusack has a small role, and Pretty in Pink (1986). Better Off Dead (1985), another film starring Cusack and set in a ski town is also referenced.
Watching Hot Tub Time Machine is like slipping into a nice warm, well, hot tub. So why not sink into Hot Tub Time Machine, and let those warm, comfortable bubbles of nostalgia massage away any niggling contemporary aches and pains. Four Stars.