Saturday, April 3, 2010

Movie Glut: "Hot Tub Time Machine," "Diary of a Wimpy Kid"

I've seen a few movies in the past couple weeks (Surprise!). Maybe I've seen seven, but two were repeats ("Shutter Island," and "How to Train Your Dragon") -- eh, who's counting, anyway?

Some high-lights/-lows:

"Hot Tub Time Machine"

The title was insidious. The trailer was awful. I saw it opening night.

I guess I was never one for transitive logic.

When John Cusack headlines something, and Steve Pink's behind it ("High Fidelity," "Grosse Pointe Blank"), there's no point in pretending I have free will -- even if the plot is: three near-middle aged men and an agoraphobic 20-year-old go to a ski resort for a doldrums-curing weekend reprieve, only to find themselves whisked away into the 80s after falling into some wormhole of a hot tub.

Even then, opening night.

We meet Adam (Cusack), Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry) in present day, the three of them just about as miserable as Kevin Spacey in "American Beauty."

Adam's long-time lady has just left him (we learn from an outraged answering-machine message, which, come to think of it, is more 80s than present-day, but, I digress.); Nick works at a pet store, where we find him having to reach into a dog's rear-end -- our first of many, many foul potty-humor jokes; and Lou's an alcoholic lunatic whose near-death is what brings the three old friends back together again.

They decide to take a jaunt up to an old ski resort to relive their youthful, glory days, bringing along Adam's basement-dwelling, unwilling nephew, Jacob (Clark Duke).

Of course, once we arrive at the ski resort, the romanticized place of parties, booze, and hot women is a dilapidated, depressing old lodge.

But, they charge forward; fueled by a lot of booze, they can still make it a fun night. And, hey, there's a hot tub fit for four grown men to squeeze into!

After passing out, the four fools awake to some startling realizations. One, their reflections look strikingly smooth-skinned and young; two, people downstairs and on the slopes are dressed really ... 1986.

"Dude is rocking a cassette player... Leg warmers!"

I typically balk at bad -- err, off-color -- humor. The first time I saw "Superbad," I felt myself blush throughout the entire penis-drawings scene -- ever since, I skip over it. I can't even really get through normal conversations that involve (what-I-consider) "grody" things -- and this movie had some of the most raunchy lines, and some otherwise, very off-putting stunts I've seen in a long while. Or, maybe it just had such a glut of them.

But, somehow, it worked.

Maybe it's because Cusack plays his normal-guy role, and most of the raunchy jokes are left for Corddry and Robinson, so I wasn't so grossly offended and old Cusack gets to remain a shining, do-no-wrong celeb Love in my eyes.


Or, maybe I'm just getting so desensitized to this type of humor that my knee-jerk blushing and embarrassment is becoming minimized?

Nah, I don't think that's it.

Really, what kept me so engaged in this completely manic movie was the deference and homage it paid to so many movies that came before it (I can't believe I'm using "deference and homage" with respect to HTTM, but ... it's somehow deserved.). The allusions and straight references to "Back to the Future" (down to Crispin Glover's role in the movie -- who was George McFly) kept me giggling throughout. The writers preempt the viewer from over-thinking the trouble with time-travel movies by addressing "concerns" (ha.) in dialogue and through referring to old movies ... all those questions you inevitably think of:

"Wait, what about ripples in time if you change something?"

"Wait, what if you see yourself, and your old self sees the new you, and then ..."

"Wait, what if I Biff buys an Almanac and ..."

For instance, Glover (or, G. McFly) plays a one-armed bellhop who greets the quad when they arrive at the lodge in present day. He's been there since they were younglings. When the group time warps back into 1986, he's got both his arms -- so, it's one of Corddry's missions to see just how he lost one; it makes room for plenty of jokes -- some side-splitting, some just stupid.

Overall, I really enjoyed it - despite many flaws.

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid"

I won't bore any of the five of you with a review on this movie. It was Awful. Awful. And, it's the last time Little Morgan gets to choose a movie when we have our Movie Dates.

Also, it's too nice out in New York to be sitting around bloggling.

The next few reviews: "Greenberg," "How to Train Your Dragon," "Date Night."

One of those is my favorite movie since Daniel Plainview drank our Milkshakes.

[Edited Addendum: A good buddy just reminded me that the Milkshake Scene is one of the best of the decade ... I responded that, yes, it is. The close second is "Call It" from NCFOM -- so, I figured I should gratuitously link it. YW.]

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