Hot Tub Guilt Complex: Am I Really The Only One Who Got Bored?

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So yes, Hot Tub Time Machine came out this weekend. And yes – not so surprisingly – audiences were plenty hungry for a goofy comedy. Who isn’t, with the snow thawing, spring break afoot, and the job market still as grim as ever. Forget reality – gimme some Hot Tub Time Machine!!

And I know there’s already a pretty big divide, between the audiences who walked out giggling and the critics who grouched up a storm late last week. Also between those critics who walked away bored by it all and that smattering of writers who relished the absurdity of both name and concept.

So am I really the only one who wanted to leave about halfway through?

That doesn’t mean I didn’t dig Hot Tub. Or at least part of it. I love how when the friends reunite and return to their now-defunct ski lodge, there’s almost no explanation as the patio doors burst open, the hot tub – which until five seconds earlier had contained the corpse of an animal – starts glowing gold, and they all giddily jump in and pass out. I think that’s great. A trippy, utterly non-sensical segue. Brilliant. (More at Techland: Toy Story 3 – the new toys gallery)

And I love the ‘80s fashion, the reactionary right-wing bullies, Nick’s explicit outburst at his cheating wife – who is only a prepubescent when he calls her in the past – and Nick’s ripping off of the Black Eyed Peas on stage, a couple decades before the group would even form. I also think just about anyone who’s feeling the pinch of the recession will appreciate the closing sequence that envisions the best buds as wealthy men who gamed the system. If only our hot tub transported us back in time, we could found Google too.

Oh, and John Cusack’s drug scene: Hilarious.

But if I can be honest here, most of it just grew old – and quick. When you have to rely on every single bodily fluid known to the universe for a chuckle, you’re grasping at straws. And a recurring gag about a bellhop’s dismemberment? Maybe a little funny the first or second time we wait to see his arm get chopped off…but after that, it just gets weird.

So yes, it has a funny title, and some good actors, but just like Snakes on a Plane, what might have worked well as a 30-minute dose of camp – or a 2-minute viral video – just doesn’t click as a watered-down 90-minute feature. Cusack didn’t have much funny to do; the larger implications of time travel weren’t really discussed; why it had to be a hot tub didn’t really make even sense. Chevy Chase: Largely wasted.

I got a few chuckles out of all this, but it’s now only a couple days down the line and I barely remember a thing. This stuff is so thin it evaporates from one’s memory in about the time it takes for a post-screening bathroom trip. And while I know a whole lot of film critics out there were worried about criticizing something that was so proudly stupid, is it too much to ask for at least some effort in filling the screen time?

I’m fine with stupid concepts, but not with movies that waste my time.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but I don’t think so. I sat down with my blue slushee, and got ready for some hot tub rub a dub silliness. Then about 40 minutes in, all I was getting were poop and pee jokes. Am I really the only one who got bored? I liked the trailer more than the movie:

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