Fridays Were Made for Hot Tub Time Machines

Up until today, I was pretty skeptical about the new schedule that’s come with my new job. I mean, Fridays off? How was I supposed to fill my time?

Hey, there’s no need for obscene hand gestures.

At 4:25 today, however, those fears proved to be unwarranted, for that’s when D.R.O.P. list member Ryan and I entered a local cinema to partake in Hot Tub Time Machine. It very well may be the closest I’ve come to being a college student since I graduated almost eight years ago.

I wasn’t exactly Rhodes Scholar material.

Now, if you plan on seeing this movie, you may want to stop reading here so I don’t spoil anything for you. Then again, a title like Hot Tub Time Machine kind of says it all, so you’re probably not risking too much by proceeding.

Besides, I’m not going to give a full-on review. I’ll leave that to the pros like Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin and the random newspaper columnists who get quoted as saying things like “Visually stunning!” and “Didn’t suck!”

How to describe Hot Tub Time Machine … I’d say it’s Back to the Future meets The Hangover, meaning it’s a highly entertaining 100 minutes. Back to the Future still holds the title as my favorite time-travel movie of all time, which explains why I asked Jenny if we could watch it while I write this. Happily, she agreed, so I can intersperse great quotes throughout the post, such as:

1985 Doc: “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re going to see some serious shit.”


The reason why I think Hot Tub Time Machine has more in common with Back to the Future than its other Hollywood time-traveling predecessors is two-fold.

One, it employs a similar butterfly-effect theory—the whole if you change anything in the past, the space-time continuum will go all Bill O’Reilly when he thinks the mic is off.

1955 Lorraine: “That is your name, isn’t it? Calvin Klein? It’s written all over your underwear.”

The cool thing in Hot Tub is that while the characters start out trying to respect the prospect of this doomsday scenario, they eventually break down and say screw it the way you always wished they would in Back to the Future. True, the results of this gamble seem a little too perfect, but the whole alternate 1985 in Back to the Future II­—the one where Biff becomes like the dictator of Hill Valley—always seemed to go too far the other way. Plus, because Marty’s dad decks Biff in 1955, he does end up becoming a best-selling author, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

1955 Doc: “1.21 jigowatts?!”

The second link between the two movies is that Hot Tub seems to consciously be giving shout-outs to Back to the Future left and right. For instance, Darryl from The Office gets on stage and performs a song from the future (“Let’s Get It Started”) like Marty did at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance (“Johnny B. Goode”), except this time, people like the whole thing and it’s a springboard to Darryl’s career.

Marty: “It’s like he’s been erased.”

1955 Doc: “Erased—from existence.”

Speaking of, when the guys in Hot Tub go back to 1986 (incidentally, one year removed from the baseline year in Back to the Future), the kid who wouldn’t have been born yet occasionally fades in and out of focus, similar to 1) Marty’s brother in the photo and 2) Marty himself when he’s on stage playing “Earth Angel” back in 1955.

Marvin Berry: “Chuck! Chuck! It’s Marvin! Your cousin, Marvin Berry. You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well, listen to this!”

There’s the gambling on sporting events using knowledge from the future (again, this didn’t happen until Back to the Future II, but close enough). There’s the jerky bar guy in the same scene actually calling one of the Hot Tub main characters “McFly.” (Incidentally, what they end up wagering is one of countless examples of why this is like The Hangover.)

And then there’s the greatest connection of all:

Crispin Glover, the guy who played George McFly, Marty’s dad himself, is the freakin’ bellhop in Hot Tub. I think the only other movie he’s been in over the last 25 years was that creepy thing where he commanded an army of rats or something. It’s good to see him again.

Marty: “Time circuits on … flux capacitor … fluxing.”

The only knock I have on Hot Tub Time Machine is that John Cusack has a moment lifted right from his character in Serendipity. He’s talking to the Spin magazine reporter he meets back in 1986, and they say something about how maybe the universe will bring them back together again.

That works in a romantic story with Kate Beckinsale, not so much in an R-rated comedy with a cameo by an episode of Alf.

Marty: “What about all that talk about screwing up future events, the space-time continuum?

1985 Doc: “Well, I figured, what the hell?”

On second thought, I guess both movies do embrace messing with past events, at least to a certain degree. So much the better.

As for this post, I’m not sure what the point really was or even if it makes sense. I suppose that comes with the territory when you’re talking time travel.

I do know one thing, though.

I can get used to this schedule.


  1. Megan

    Well after reading this post, I decided that Hot Tub Time Machine is lacking one thing that clearly gives Back to the Future a leg up (times infinity). One word: Biff.You made up my mind for me, I'm not going to see Hot Tub Time Machine because there is no Biff. You also forget that Crispin Glover was in that movie "Bartleby," which was the screen adaptation of Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener, which is the poor man's "Office Space." Don't see it. It's not that Crispin Glover hasn't been in anything, it's just that he hasn't been in anything worth seeing since Back to the Future…until now.

  2. Ted

    I did neglect to mention that in Hot Tub Time Machine, there is a bully on the ski patrol named Blaine who beat up Lou, one of the main characters, back in 1986. Traveling back allows Lou to exact some measure of revenge in a scene that, incidentally, also incorporates "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias.Blaine is no Biff, of course, but they may be related. And you do get a version of the George McFly roundhouse punch moment.

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