Now John Cusack is applying the same shtick to movies: having tried his luck as both action hero and romantic lead, with ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’, Cusack returns to the slapdash, high concept ’80s comedies that made him famous. And concepts don’t come much higher than this: following a mysterious incident with an outdoor Jacuzzi and a can of nuclear-powered Russian energy drink, Adam (Cusack) and his three friends find themselves rocketed into the past, forced to relive the craziest night of their teenage lives before they can find a way back to the good old twenty-first century.
‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ conforms a little too closely to the post-‘The Hangover’ comedy template of a gang of drunk middle-aged losers with loud voices, bad attitudes and dubious ideas about women. But where this film scores over ‘The Hangover’ is in the script, which replaces brash overconfidence with a looser narrative structure and a shaggier, more playful sense of humour.
It also does a great job of recreating the style and content of the ’80s comedies it so lovingly pastiches, namely girls with big hair, pounding synth music and skisuit-wearing preppy douchebag villains. Giving his most charming performance in years, Cusack keeps the film sweet-natured when his more outrageous co-star Rob Corddry threatens to go overboard. No masterpiece, perhaps, but ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ is post-pub perfection.