Hot Tub Time Machine
Genre: Comedy
Director: Steve Pink
Stars: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Chevy Chase
Rating: ** 1/2

The decade of giant hair, shoulder pads, neon colours and bad synthesizer music is perfect for plundering, yet Hot Tub Time Machine leaves the booty largely intact. Like the wonky Jacuzzi that gives the film its title and nutso travel mode, the movie operates in fits and starts.

It’s directed by Steve Pink, friend and business associate of Hot Tub star John Cusack, who revisits and relives his ’80s past along with fellow time travellers Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke.

The committee of clowns behind the Hot Tub screenplay amused themselves by grafting the buddies-gone-wild hilarity of The Hangover with the time-altering drama of Back to the Future and a host of other ’80s flicks.

Hot Tub begins in 2010, with three close pals who have arrived at middle age with their dreams thoroughly dashed. Adam (Cusack) is selling insurance and pulling arrows out of his butt from his latest breakup; Nick (Robinson) is a henpecked hubby in a dead-end service job; and the perpetually wasted and chronically unemployed Lou (Corddry) has been dicing with the Car Exhaust Death Machine.

Lou’s flirtation with forever prompts the lads to return to the scene of their wild 1980s dreams, the alpine adventureland called Kodiak Valley where they once lived large and loud.

About that time travel thing: Suffice to say it really does involve a hot tub. The lads find themselves back in the Kodiak Valley of 1986, magically looking like they did in their youth but still possessing the bad judgment and erratic fortunes of middle age.

The four guys do manage something approximating The Hangover’s quartet of fools. Yet as warm and inviting as Hot Tub is, there’s the unmistakable feeling that many satiric targets have been missed, or ignored in favour of gross-out humour more appropriate to the 1990s.

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