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HOT TUB TIME MACHINE
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Lizzy Caplan, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase
Director: Steve Pink
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: June 29, 2010

Excuse me, miss...what color is Michael Jackson?

Black.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Film ***1/2

It's been a long time since I laughed as hard and as often as I did during Hot Tub Time Machine. Oh, there have been some funny comedies of late, don't get me wrong...Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Hangover being two prime examples. But this one fuses my favorite decade, a funny buddy romp, and time travel into one hilarious concoction that had me in pain at one point.

In the present day, things aren't as good as they could be. Life hasn't turned out the way they thought it would be for Adam (Cusack) and Nick (Robinson), especially when their Cartman-esque pal Lou (Corddry) gets drunk and guns his gas pedal in his garage while listening to Motley Crue. Was it a suicide attempt, or is Lou just that stupid? It's hard to tell.

So they decide to take Lou to a ski resort they frequented in their youth, along with Adam's twenty-something nerdy nephew Jacob (Duke). When they arrive, it's not quite what they remembered...dirty, falling apart, and manned by a one-armed bellboy (Glover).

But a night of drinking and partying in the hot tub (which started out filthy, but suddenly came to life; didn't anyone else notice?), they wake up in a strange state. Legwarmers, Jeri-curl, and hairspray are everywhere. MTV is playing music. Ronald Reagan is addressing the nation.

Yes, our beloved comrades have indeed traveled back to 1986 to replicate a big night in their lives. In fact, everyone else sees them as they were in their youths. The question...are they supposed to duplicate everything that happened back then in order to prevent history from being derailed? Or is it a chance to make things right?  And what of Jacob, who didn't even exist in 1986?

The cryptic hot tub repairman (Chase) offers very little in the way of real answers, but given then nature of these guys, is there any doubt that their attempt to stay faithful to history will go awry? Especially Lou, who finds betting on sporting events he already knew the outcome to as a lucrative deal. Until he learns the hard way about what happens when you tamper with history.

That is probably THE funniest scene in a movie filled with funny scenes, and it may exist only in the unrated version. I never saw the theatrical one, which is also included on this disc, so I can't make educated comparisons, but I can't imagine even wanting to go back to rated R with all that this uncut version has to offer.

This movie might be the best and most accurate representation of the 80s I've yet seen in a modern film. It gets the references and styles right without forcing parody; what we actually did and wore during that decade are parody enough. And it's extremely amusing to me that, like in all time travel movies, there are conundrums and paradoxes, but here they are blown through with hilarity that keeps you from asking too many hard existential questions. That would only make your brain hurt after so much laughter.

This is a first rate cast led by John Cusack, who of course carved out his own niche in the 80s with films like Better Off Dead and The Sure Thing. What better actor to look back to the decade with an eye in midlife crisis?

This is funny, funny stuff, and couldn't have come at a better time for me. If laughter is the best medicine, Hot Tub Time Machine will pronounce you cured.

Video ***

This is a perfectly good Blu-ray presentation, but not one that makes too many demands of high definition apart from the loud color schemes of the 80s. Images are crisp and detailed, but the overall presentation by nature isn't going to blow your mind.

Audio ***

Ah, all that great 80s music...how could you not love it? Especially when this movie had me wondering how they did it by putting a young Poison onstage for a concert. No matter...the music gives this DTS HD track its bottom end and its punch. Spoken words are well-rendered against it. Action is minimal, but the tunes make it rock.

Features **1/2

The way the features are presented is kind of aggravating; some are accessible through the theatrical menu, some through the unrated menu. It's all the same disc, couldn't we have just compiled one list so you don't have to switch back and forth to see everything?

That being said, there's a production featurette, a look at Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover, a look at the 80s costuming, a trailer, and a collection of deleted scenes that have to be watched in one 11 minute session.

The package also includes a digital copy disc.

Summary:

I do indeed love the 80s, and Hot Tub Time Machine was a hysterical, fun trip back to the decade of success and excess. The unrated movie is bound to offend a few delicate constitutions, but for the rest of you, buck up and enjoy this comedic gem.

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