The title of Hot Tub Time Machine tells you pretty much all you need to know about what you’re getting into. As Samuel L. Jackson famously said of Snakes on a Plane: “You either want to see it, or you don’t.” And if you’re a fan of gleefully smart-stupid lowbrow comedies, you want to see Hot Tub Time Machine, although the movie doesn’t contain anything quite as succinctly brilliant as its title.
It does, however, take that premise and run with it, putting three former best friends (plus a tag-along nephew) in that magical Jacuzzi at a rundown ski lodge and sending them back to 1986, where they are stuck as their younger selves and doomed to repeat history until they realize they can instead change it and make it more awesome. It’s a ridiculous premise that only gets more so as the movie goes on, and things like internal logic are pretty much abandoned.
But all that is easy to forgive if a movie’s funny, and Hot Tub generally is. Some of the gross-out gags go too far, but the movie shines a great spotlight on consistent comedic performers Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson, who’ve had mostly smaller roles in other movies, and John Cusack adds a surprising amount of grounded humanity to the craziness. Sometimes the pop-culture references feel like the filmmakers merely watched I Love the ’80s rather than actually experienced the ’80s, but it’s all in keeping with the over-the-top tone. If the title makes you want to see the movie, you’ll get what you’re hoping for.