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

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.

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."

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