Hot Tub Nostalgia Machine

– Jacob O’Gara

“Nostalgia” comes from a Greek word meaning “pain” or “ache.” It refers to a sort of remembrance of things past, a longing to return to a time previous, where things were “so much better.” The feeling of nostalgia for a certain place in time typically comes over those who have lived through that time; however, there are always people who pine for a cultural moment’s return who actually never lived through that moment. The latest case of this kind of pseudo-nostalgia is the embrace of “Hot Tub Time Machine” by those who weren’t even alive during the time period the comedy depicts.

The cultural moment on display in “Hot Tub Time Machine” is the Eighties, specifically 1986, and even more specifically, Winterfest ’86. Three men, whose friendship has become so strained over the years that only a suicide attempt can bring them together, inhabit the bodies of their younger selves and get the chance to relive the days of neon-colored ski suits, Poison, Ronald Reagan, and AIDS. What results is a movie with a title more ridiculous than “Snakes on a Plane,” and the best guy-bonding comedy since “Superbad.”

The film (yeah, I’ll be so bold as to bestow it with such an honor) is propelled by the friendship of Rob Corddry, John Cusack, and Craig Robinson. Cusack plays a throwback to the kind of angsty, soul-searching, heartthrob characters he played in the 1980s; Robinson is the lovable musician of the bunch, and Corddry plays the asshole of the trio, but in the words of Robinson’s character, “he’s our asshole.” And unlike Bradley Cooper’s debonair bastard character in “The Hangover,” Corddry genuinely comes across as the kind of friend you have and hang with, but don’t really know why. At times, his self-absorbed nature is grating, but then he turns around and does something selfless. Like all of the “our asshole”-types in our lives.

“Hot Tub Time Machine” probably isn’t going to join the pantheon of film comedy greats like “Some Like It Hot” or the Monty Python films, but it gets an A for affort. It’s more poignant and touching in its portrayal of male bonding than the goofy pitch-in-title lets on, and it’s one of the most quotable movies I’ve ever seen. Check it out before the millions of Facebook groups ruin it.


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