Hot Tub Time Machine: ** 1/2 (out of 4)

One of my favorite 80s screwball comedies was Better Off Dead. It was a cute, silly, essentially-pointless John Cusack vehicle about breakups and skiing; it managed to end up with a half dozen good, quotable scenes intermixed with a plot that barely deserved the title. It's a fun, foolish movie that was popular enough to be parodized on South Park a few years back, but otherwise doesn't appear to have impinged on the American consciousness for a while now... or at least that's what I thought until the first trailers for Hot Tub Time Machine came out.

Sadly, Hot Tub Time Machine is not Better Off Dead 2: The Wrath of Rob Corddry.

That isn't to say that there are no connections; indeed, how could you otherwise create a movie at a ski resort that both starring and produced by John Cusack? At points, the movie even seemed to make the connection for the audience - what else could the cry of "two dollars" mean? But instead of really being a riff on 80s comedies, we got an attempt at a modern buddy-sex comedy (ala The Hangover). And in that, it really didn't do a great job.

For all of that, I can't say that I was particularly disappointed. I did laugh pretty regularly. The self-referential geekiness was endearing; the use of the actor that played Marty McFly's father in the Back to the Future series was extremely cute. I was impressed with Craig Robinson (I'm never going to think of him as anything else but Darryl from The Office), and was happy to see Rob Corddry even if he was playing the same character as ever.
I got a kick out of geeky 20-year-old. And Chevy Chase was cute.

Still... I would have been happier with something more self-referential. Why didn't we just see John Cusack going back in time with his friends to re-create Better Off Dead directly? Why didn't they play up the various genres of 80s comedy more clearly? And, generally, why couldn't the creators have come up with something clever enough that somebody would think to reference it 25 years later?

** 1/2