The first trailer for Hot Tub Machine debuted on Yahoo! Movies today (a red-band teaser was revealed at San Diego Comic Con earlier this year), and it could be the thing to make the multiplex safe this winter. The film is scheduled for release in February, traditional dumping ground for crap Hollywood wants the public to forget. But Hot Tub Time Machine looks like a whole lot of fun and actually pretty funny. It stars John Cusack, Rob Corrdry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke as four pretty lame guys looking to party in a boring ski resort cabin. "Let's break into a school!" Corrdry enthusiastically suggests. Much drinking ensues in the titular hot tub, and they're eventually sent back to 1986 where site gags and neon are as plentiful as big hair and casette Walkmans and Cusack can atone for the early moments of his leading-man career (Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, etc.).
While the set-up is prime for awful jokes and lazy parody, there's an overall sense of earnestness to the whole thing coming off the trailer. And it seems to actually be playing on honest sci-fi themes. For example, Clark Duke's character sees a younger version of his mom, who then hooks up with Rob Corddry, and then says that she "feels pregnant." In other words, Clark Duke's character would not exist if he hadn't gone back in time with these guys since they needed to go back in time in order for him to be conceived. That premise is a sci-fi cottage industry (it's the crux of the Terminator series, for example), and if the filmmakers actually embrace the sci-fi-ness of the premise, Hot Tub Time Machine could easily rise above it's destined-for-midnight-movie status -- if only into solid B-movie territory.
We'll have to wait until early 2010 to see if any of that's the case, but I'm encouraged by what's in the trailer -- especially it''s dialogue centerpiece: "It must be a... hot tub time machine."
Of course it is.