Classroom conversation and cultural commentary / Jim Cullen
Friday, April 2, 2010
Jim is observing Good Friday. His recent moviegoing has included Hot Tub Time Machine -- not exactly great art, but a satisfying combination of raunchiness and nostalgia, set in a ripe-for-satire 1986. Of particular note is the performance of Rob Corddry, formerly of Jon Stewart's Daily Show, where he in effect succeeded Stephen Colbert as Stewart's go-to comedian.He's had a few movie roles in recent years. But Hot Tub Time Machine may well be his breakthrough role. Corddry's barely contained anarchic quality is in full display here, reminiscent of John Belushi's glory days. In the film he plays one of a trio of losers (along with the always winning John Cusack and Craig Robinson) who decide to visit a now broken-down resort of their youth after a Corddry's character has a near-death experience that may or may not have been a suicide attempt. When a suspect energy drink called Chernobyl (as in scene of a Russian nuclear disaster) gets spilled on the console of their hot tub, these tired yet immature men find themselves plunged back in time for a second chance at life. Cusack's dweebish nephew, played by Clark Duke, comes along as a sidekick and the source of a subplot -- he's obsessed that unless history re-enacts itself perfectly, he'll never be born. There's also a very funny subplot involving Crispin Glover, who we keep expecting to lose the arm he lacks at the start of the film.
Hot Tub Time machine has lots of time-sensitive jokes, plenty of hokey eighties couture and so-bad-it's-good music (think Poison), along with the pleasingly anachronistic arrival, decades ahead of time, of the Black Eyed Peas. In a fallow movie season, it's worth a look if your taste runs toward broad satire.