Alright everyone, let’s quit the chit chat and get down to business. Under the microscope this week; the new film release, Hot Tub Time Machine, a laugh out loud comedy, or so it says. Three DVDs I think would be best when curling up and chilling out on a Friday or Saturday night and if that’s a little too expensive you can find out what film I deem the best of what happens to be on TV that night as well. Up first though it’s:
The Film Review
Hot Tub Time Machine
Former best buds Adam (Cusack), Nick (Robinson) and Lou (Corddry) are reunited after Lou’s drunken antics are mistaken for a suicide attempt. To cheer themselves up they venture, along with Adam’s nephew Jacob (Duke), to the party town of their youth, but after a drunken night in a hot tub, wake up in 1986 (Shock and Awe!).
If you happen to have gone to the cinema last weekend, you would have been stuck with the Hot Tub Time Machine for comedy, a near two hour long piss-take of the genre of eighties feel-good films that is all but dead that you'll either be onboard with from the title alone, or dismiss it and see the latest Iranian drama about emotionally scarred goat herders (Four Lions). These R-rated comedies are spreading like wild fire (Hangover being the most successful) and Hot Tub is no different. Throwing out the stereotypical hook: the lovable college misfits are now middle-aged and get a little nostalgic. In this case, it’s depressed Adam (a well-cast John Cusack) and henpecked Nick (Craig Robinson), while ass of the group Lou (Rob Corddry) brings them all together when he winds up in A&E.
With that, they decide to head for the place of their happiest memories, dragging along Adam’s basement-dwelling, technology-obsessed teenage nephew, Jacob (Clark Duke, A character to lead those who happen to be born on the later side of the ’80s) along for the ride. The town they once spent their wildest nights, now lacking so much in life it couldn’t host a funeral. The go off the deep end in a night of irresponsible drinking, only to awaken on a date in 1986 that was crucial to all of them. (Go figure!)
A concept that would have been, and on hearing it myself, should have been rejected hands down to be sure, but it works beautifully up on screen, which you should almost expect given Cusack and director Steve Pink’s previous collaborations are Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity. Of course, they’ve made sure Hot Tub’s story has heart while playing effortlessly with its own impossibility, and amazingly the jokes are even funny enough and bountiful enough to keep you laughing right through.
Hot Tub Time Machine R-rated Trailer
The big win, though, is the foursome’s terrific energy, which holds all of the script’s wildly disparate ideas together and even make the most obvious jokes funny. Robinson and Duke are well casted, and while it’s fantastic to see Cusack back doing all-out comedy, and Rob Corddry, who has to make horrible jerk Lou likable and funny.
Of course, they can’t all be winners, and the jokes every now and then miss the mark and are meet with awkward silences from the audience. It’s also, quite understandably, that being a eighties style film it is slanted towards a particular generation or two — if you’re too young to see the gag potential in an energy drink called Chernobyl carelessly left lying around, then you might miss a few gags and then again if your well informed enough on your history you just might catch them all. But despite the eighties jokes here and there, Hot Tub miraculously manages to survive this without leaving anyone behind; this is a comprehensive comedy for all ages but will of course suit those from 1990 back.
It’s bizarre to think that such a bluntly named film with a stereotypical script, even with its imaginative high concept, can make you laugh throughout. I believe it is the foursome of leads on electric form that makes this the best-blunt-dumb-fun-film of the year (now that is a mouthful).
The DVD Choices of the Week
- Where The Wild Things Are (PG)
The story follows Max, a young boy who wears his wolf suit, behaves badly and is sent to bed without any supper. Once there, he escapes to a forest where he is joined by the monstrous-yet-cuddly wild things for their wild rumpus.
A film that will bring out the inner child in even the most hardened of hearts, and let it run wild.
- A Scanner Darkly (15)
Anaheim, California, the near future. Bob Arctor (Reeves), an addict to the drug Substance D, is actually an undercover cop out to bust the D network. Bob’s bosses, who don’t know his cover story, order him to spy on himself, causing his grip on reality to be shaken by his schizoid way of life.
Although its clever posterizing effect is bizarre looking and curious it can become a series of dizzy pictures to the viewer so beware. However, its intelligent writing and cinematography makes it near-essential viewing.
- Nowhere Boy (15)
Liverpool, 1955. When teenage rebel John Lennon (Johnson) learns that his aunt Julia (Duff) is actually his biological mother, he finds his loyalties divided. He finds an escape from domestic pressures in his growing passion for music.
Nowhere Boy finds relative entertainment and drama, in Lennon’s legend. It’s not essential viewing and but entertaining nonetheless.
The TV Film choices For Friday/Saturday
Friday 14th May
- Red Dragon – TV3, 22:00
(2002, Detective/Thriller) The FBI agent who first captured Hannibal Lecter is called out of retirement to catch a demented murderer dubbed the Tooth Fairy, who slaughters a family whenever there is a full moon - forcing the detective to draw on the imprisoned cannibal's expertise. Thriller prequel adapted from the first of Thomas Harris's Lecter novels, starring Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
(2005, Science Fiction) The naive survivors of an apparent ecological disaster work, rest and play inside their utopian sealed community in the year 2019, each hoping to win a ticket to an idyllic island in a regular lottery draw. However, a curious inhabitant discovers the restricted society is a facade shielding a sinister cloning operation and is determined to escape. Sci-fi thriller, starring Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Bean and Steve Buscemi. Including Entertainment News Update.
Saturday 8th May
- Die Hard – Channel 4, 21:00
(1988, Action) New York cop John McClane is in LA to visit his wife and kids over the Christmas holiday. Stopping off at his wife's place of work - an office in a Japanese-owned skyscraper - he finds the building hijacked by terrorists, who are holding the corporation's staff to ransom - and only he has the ability to fight back. Action thriller, starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman and Bonnie Bedelia.
- Saturday Night Fever – Channel 4, 23:35
(1977, General Movie/Drama) A streetwise Brooklyn teenager struggles to cope with a dead end job and a dysfunctional family, but finds an escape in the disco scene, where he falls in love with a girl dreaming of breaking free from her equally poor background to pursue a brighter future in Manhattan, Drama, starring John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney and Paul Pape, and featuring songs by the Bee Gees.
- Armageddon – TG4, 22:00
(1998, Space/Thriller) NASA discovers an asteroid the size of Texas is on a collision course with Earth, so a drilling expert is recruited to train up a team of misfits, who will transport a nuclear device into outer space to destroy it - but having had no training in space travel, the reluctant astronauts find themselves seriously out of their depth. Sci-fi thriller, with Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Michael Clarke Duncan, Billy Bob Thornton and Steve Buscemi.