How do you make a raunchy, completely over-the-top comedy about 4 guys smart and funny? You concentrate on the characters.
Director Steve Pink and his crew working on a modest budget (the budget is the reason we are seeing the limited prints make their way to Hyderabad after almost 6 months) have done the smartest thing in a dumb comedy - they wrote a smart screenplay about people, and then let the the actors make them their own.
It's a major launch vehicle for Rob Corddry and Clark Duke, both of whom get plenty of jokes, and pull off their moments with ease and panache. Corddry is especially the star of the film that starts and ends with his arc getting completed.
When Lou (Rob Corddry) is hospitalised after a failed suicide attempt, his only two friends in the world, pussy-whipped and frustrated musician Nick (Craig Robinson) and defeated Adam (John Cusack), decide to take him on a ski trip to their favourite ski resort.
Along for the ride is Adam's nephew Jacob (Clark Duke). When they reach the resort, they realise how run-down it all is, and yet decide to stick around, which leads to a night of drinking and time travel.
It's the time travel that gives so much room for the writers to pile on jokes after jokes. There are the requisite jokes about the '80s, but the paradox of travelling in time, the impossibilities, and the situations arising from that bring about the best moments from the characters. Clark Duke, in a very real quest to make sure he's born and that they get back, is the straight man, but his geek lifestyle leads to a lot of funnies while he attempts to do so.
Craig Robinson is the moral compass of the story, where he is reluctant to relive his teenage and cheat on his wife. His reluctance and general level of freaked-out-ness is a great launching pad for Craig Robinson to be Craig Robinson, with his trademark understated comedy. John Cusack doesn't get much to do, but he does have some fun moments with Lizzy Caplan, who is a delight to watch.
The show, however, completely belongs to Rob Corddry. Playing a character as morally dubious, sex crazed and completely out of control as lou means that you often cross the very fine line between likeable douche and a*****e. Corddry keeps it completely in check, and despite all the debauched nonsense you see him go through, he is consistently funny and with our sympathies.
Raunchy and yet completely hilarious, Hot Tub Time Machine manages to be funny with a threadbare plot and plenty of great laughs. It's a great showcase for some actors with immense charisma to develop the pace of the comedy and let us in on the good time they're having on screen. It's this year's The Hangover, and definitely has gags that are uncovered after every repeat viewing. Perfect for your guys night out.