PLOT: On a ski vacation, four dudes are somehow transported back to 1986.
BOTTOM LINE: Hugely raunchy and undeniably funny, with Cusack adding just a hint of sweetness.
CAST: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson
In the unashamedly ridiculous comedy "Hot Tub Time Machine," four men rent a ski lodge and jump into a cauldron that transports them back to 1986, triggering a montage of cultural touchstones broader than Joan Collins' shoulder pads. Like another current release, "Greenberg," and the hair-metal musical "Rock of Ages," this movie combines mockery with nostalgia; the one takes the edge off the other.
"Hot Tub Time Machine" is also a meta-movie: Its star is John Cusack, who helped define the '80s in films like "The Sure Thing" and "Say Anything." Cusack, 43 and still almost as baby-faced as Matthew Broderick, plays Adam, one of three friends disappointed by their grown-up lives. The others are Nick (Craig Robinson, "The Office"), who gave up music for pet-grooming, and Lou (Rob Corddry), an alcohol-fueled wreck. Each man will get a chance to change his past.
Adam's 20-something nephew, Jacob (Clark Duke, "Sex Drive"), comes along mainly to provide younger viewers with an on-screen avatar. Deprived of Twitter, Jacob can't figure out how to date a girl; while others ski, he snowboards.
The raunch factor here is high - the movie's very first joke involves a dog and a rubber glove - but Cusack dependably adds a dollop of sweetness. When Jacob wonders what made the '80s so great, Adam has the answer: "We were young. We had momentum. We were winning."