By John Mulderig/Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — "Hot Tub Time Machine" (MGM) is a tasteless comedy that sees a trio of current-day losers transported back to their supposed glory days of youthful drug- and sex-fueled hedonism a quarter-century ago.
Former best friends Adam (John Cusack), Lou (Rob Corddry) and Nick (Craig Robinson) have drifted apart over the years as they’ve gradually become dissatisfied middle-age failures. After the three are reunited by an incident that almost costs Nick his life, they embark on a road trip to the ski resort that was the long-ago setting for some of their most memorable high jinks.
If only to get him out of the basement where he spends most of his time obsessively playing video games, they also bring Adam’s geeky 24-year-old nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) along for the ride.
Though their once-thriving hangout has declined into a seedy dump, the pals continue to pursue their version of fun, attempting at one point to acquire the services of a prostitute willing to take on all four of them, and eventually ending up in a slope-side hot tub whose magical malfunctioning suddenly lands them back in 1986.
For the remainder of what passes for a plot, the buddies, when not consuming a pharmacopoeia of illegal substances or having casual sexual encounters with strangers, dither between the desire to preserve the past in order to ensure the future — including Jacob’s very existence — and the temptation to improve their destinies by making better choices.
As directed by Steve Pink, the tedious proceedings — which feature, at various times, sight gags involving dog poop, a catheter and a severed arm — are at once artistically ramshackle and morally repugnant.
The film contains graphic nonmarital sexual activity, upper female and rear nudity, repeated drug use, about 10 instances of profanity, much sexual and some scatological humor and ceaseless rough and crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.