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Originally published March 25, 2010 at 12:04 AM | Page modified March 25, 2010 at 10:06 AM

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Movie review

'Hot Tub Time Machine': Forgettable trip back to the decade of big hair

A review of "Hot Tub Time Machine," starring John Cusack and Rob Corddry — a forgettable comedic trip back to a decade many prefer not to remember.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 1.5 stars

'Hot Tub Time Machine,' with John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Chevy Chase, Crispin Glover. Directed by Steve Pink, from a screenplay by Josh Heald, Sean Anders and John Morris. 100 minutes. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language. Several theaters.

At the end of a "Hot Tub Time Machine" preview screening earlier this week, some guy in the audience flicked on his cigarette lighter and held it aloft, in defiance both of fire regulations and of time. Maybe he was connecting to the movie's message of nostalgia for lost youth; maybe he was showing solidarity with the film's time-traveling characters by mentally revisiting a long-ago concert; maybe he just wanted a cigarette, I don't know. But it was a moment that gave me pause, which is more than "Hot Tub Time Machine" did.

Because, really, do I really need to tell you anything about a movie called "Hot Tub Time Machine," other than that it's exactly what you think it is? Like "Snakes on a Plane," this one lays it all out in the title. A group of 40-ish guys (plus one guy's 20-ish nephew), all more or less bummed about their lives, get into a hot tub at a ski resort and, after a lot of drinking, find themselves magically zapped back to 1986 — complete with "Miami Vice" T-shirts, Alf on television and bouncy-haired women in leggings. While there, they manage to sort out a few details of their lives, fixing past mistakes and changing their futures.

It's all handled with cheesy good humor, if little actual wit. John Cusack classes things up a tad, lazily playing up his '80s persona (no, he never holds up a boom box), but otherwise the characters are generic and take a back seat to a steady parade of gags involving vomit, dog feces and pervasive homophobia.

A few mildly funny lines remind us how much life has changed since the '80s: The nephew, trying to arrange a hookup with a young woman, is flustered when she, knowing nothing of texting or cellphones, tells him to "come find me" at a party. "That sounds ... exhausting," says the kid, perplexed. Otherwise, "Hot Tub Time Machine" zooms right by, barely pausing on its way out (like, mercifully, the '80s hair it depicts), forgotten almost before it's over.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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