The movie shows the signs of being made in haste - your proprietor wasn't surprised to hear that Team Cusack (including actor/producer John Cusack and director Steve Pink) was brought in and given loose rein on the film in exchange for turning it around quickly. But the production's a little smarter than it's being given credit for, and the story of three run-down guys in their 40s (and an isolated young nephew) given a second chance thanks to the title machine gives some very funny actors roles that they seemed born for - Rob Corddry's obnoxia, which never quite fit his correspondent duties on THE DAILY SHOW, is given a particularly strong launching pad here.
But it's a perfect project for Cusack. In Adam he finds a burned-out character haunted by his compromises and squandered potential (viewers of 2012 might find this role an apt one). In addition to referencing his previous work (its time period the era of SAY ANYTHING, its 80s nostalgia mirroring that of GROSSE POINTE BLANK), the film restores Cusack to his most comfortable habitat. Throughout his career Cusack's been at his best when paired with an equally solid actress for romantic comedy, and there's real joy in watching both Cusack and Adam rediscover and reinhabit their charm opposite Lizzy Caplan (warm and confident as a young 80s music journalist who offers Adam a tantalizing second chance). Though the material's not quite as sharp as that offered Skye/Cusack or Cusack/Driver, Cusack and Caplan mine it for a grace that raises the stakes of the comic mayhem surrounding it, allowing HOT TUB TIME MACHINE to succeed on more than 80s nostalgia and sex jokes (both of which are executed with winning energy).
I laughed a lot.