Daily Archives: June 30, 2010

Tub1

 

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you set out to satirize something, shouldn’t your movie be a bit smarter and wittier than whatever it is you’re satirizing?

I’m old enough to remember the 1980s (vaguely) and its films, and one thing I recall is that comedies back then didn’t rely exclusively on flatulence, bodily fluids, arrested development, and foul-mouthed mean-spiritedness for 99 percent of their humor.  Granted, a lot of the ‘80s movies were garbage — but they didn’t smell as bad as Hot Tub Time Machine.

God knows the ‘80s look awful enough in this film.  From the dreadful sitcoms on background TVs to the stick-your-finger-in-an-electrical-socket hairdos, it’s easy to see why the four characters who get magically transported back to 1986 want so desperately to return to the present.  Not so easy to understand is why John Cusack, an actor I once admired, now seems to be in a race with Robert Downey, Jr. to see who can taint his acting legacy the fastest.  Faring better than Cusack is gentle-giant Craig Robinson, who is featured in the few scenes in Machine that are genuinely funny.

Time-machine comedies can work.  For evidence of that, you need only go back to, well, the 1980s (Back to the Future).  But as I stared, glassy-eyed and foggy-brained, at this mess of a movie on DVD, I was happy that I had my own time machine – the fast-forward button on my remote.      Grade:  D-

 

Tub2

 

Director:  Steve Pink  Cast:  John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Sebastian Stan, Lyndsy Fonseca, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase, Lizzy Caplan, Collette Wolfe, Crystal Lowe, Jessica Pare  Release:  2010

 

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by Janet Evanovich

Finger

 

Once upon a time, many years ago, Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series was the freshest, funniest phenomenon in the publishing industry.  Hollywood long ago forgot how to make engaging screwball comedies, but Evanovich’s Plum, a klutzy, novice bounty hunter, was a slapstick delight.  And so were the supporting characters:  Grandma Mazur, Lula the reformed hooker, and the rest of the gang.

But then, sadly, somewhere around book six or seven in the series, Evanovich either ran out of creative steam or simply sold out.  Stephanie’s adventures are now repetitive and there are very few laugh-out-loud moments.  And yet, I continue to check in with this series.  How come?  I guess the Plum adventures are like Stephanie’s relatives — you know more than enough about them, but there is a certain hokey comfort whenever you pay them a visit.

 

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