'Hot Tub Time Machine': Back to '80s

+ -

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Only a few years ago, the wide-tied 1970s provided the laughs in Will Ferrell's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy." These days, the 1980s are providing the punch lines.

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.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

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."

Coming soon: Newsday's Entertainment newsletter, for the latest on celebs, TV, more.


Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: