Even the most fervent fan of Hot Tub Time Machine would surely have to concede that the film has found its natural home on DVD and Blu-ray. As much fun as it was in the cinema, this is a movie that simply works far better in the home, where a quick nip off for a cup of tea during the quiet bits is less pivotal.
That said, I’ve maintained since I first saw it that Hot Tub Time Machine is a blast of a comedy. It’s not a great one, and inevitably the concept is better than the end result. But thanks to some smart casting, some good writing and an appropriate 80s soundtrack, it’s a comedy that’s likely to bring significant pleasure to those who lived through and enjoyed the 80s. It’s one of a clutch of films to do that this year, although, given that most of them haven’t done too much business, it’s a fad that’s likely to fade quite quickly.
Hot Tub Time Machine‘s concept is wisely kept simple. There’s a hot tub. It is a time machine. In step four friends (well, three, really, but there’s four of them in all), and they find themselves transported back to the 80s. And inevitably, it’s here where the film is at its best.
Led by John Cusack, the comedy ensemble aren’t given too many funny lines by the functional script, but they nonetheless lift the material, and turns in uniformly strong performances. It’s great, for instance, to see Craig Robinson getting a more substantive role after many supporting turns, while Clark Duke emerges with his reputation enhanced. I didn’t warm to Chevy Chase’s brief cameo a great deal, and thought that a bit more could have been made of him.
But, on the whole, Hot Tub Time Machine is an efficient, quite funny and really very enjoyable comedy. It’s not a great one, but it successfully pulls the leg of the 80s, while in no small way paying testament to the era. And, without giving anything away, I really liked the ending a lot.
It’s great, too, to see John Cusack returning in some way to a genre and era where he enjoyed such successes. And I can’t help thinking that Hot Tub Time Machine and Grosse Pointe Blank would make one hell of a double bill.
Ah, now here’s an area of the package that lets the side down. Firstly, there’s no problem with the picture and audio, which benefit as much as a comedy realistically can from a high definition presentation. You’d be hard pushed to declare Hot Tub Time Machine a film that’s crying out to be seen in high definition, but it’s benefited from a nice job.
The extra features, though, are weak. Granted, in amongst the deleted scenes you find on the disc is some material that’s chuckle-worthy. But it’s about as good as things get, given that the rest of the extra features are made up of promotional spots and a trailer.
It’s hardly a compelling package to tip you over the edge into buying the Blu-ray, and given how much fun could have been had with the music alone (although I appreciate there’s licensing costs there), it has to count as a missed opportunity.
Still, at least the film’s a hoot….
The Film:The Disc:
Hot Tub Time Machineis out now on Blu-ray and DVD available from the Den Of Geek Store.