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Gen X marks the spot in 'Greenberg,' 'Hot Tub'

From left, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, John Cusack

From left, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, John Cusack and Clark Duke are shown in a scene from, "Hot Tub Time Machine." Photo Credit: AP Photo

When it comes to cultural domination, Generation X is steadily shoving aside the baby boomers. And just as the boomers like to remember the 1960s, the Xers are looking back to the 1980s.

Two new movies take different approaches to the decade of Ronald Reagan and hair-metal. In the raunchy comedy "Hot Tub Time Machine," four grown men journey back to 1986. The jokes are broad and obvious: legwarmers, Walkmans, "Miami Vice." The film's villain is named Blaine - a nod to John Hughes' teen drama "Pretty in Pink" - and the plot peripherally involves the 1984 cold-war saga "Red Dawn" (the remake is due this year).

There's even a joke in the casting: The film's star is John Cusack, whose string of '80s teen movies includes "Better Off Dead" and "The Sure Thing."

By contrast, the nuanced comedy-drama "Greenberg" stars Ben Stiller as the 40-ish, neurotic Roger Greenberg. The movie's cultural nods are subtler - the soundtrack includes the pioneering college-rock band Galaxie 500 - but the nostalgia is more severe. At a party full of 20-somethings, Greenberg snorts cocaine (talk about revisiting the '80s) and tries to analyze the carefree, Web-enabled youths around him. "There's a confidence about you guys that's horrifying," he says. "I hope I die before I meet one of you in a job interview."

In 10 or 20 years, it'll be the next generation's turn. Expect plenty of jokes about Twitter, iPods and Kanye West.


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