I can understand why John Cusack, producer and star of this movie, would like to find a time machine to take him back to 1986. That was the last time he was making popular movies.
With the most explanatory title since “Snakes on a Plane,” we know where this is going, literally. Four shlubs, unhappy with their lives, go for a ski weekend at a place where the three middle-aged friends used to live it up. The fourth member is a shlub from the next generation who has never had a chance to live it up. At the resort, they go into a hot tub and faster than you can say Spandau Ballet, they are back in 1986. Three of them have a chance to correct their mistakes and the fourth has a chance to find out something about where he came from that will surprise no one. Within the first ten minutes we see a bong, a character throwing dog poop in someone’s face, and a suicide attempt. Party on!
Can you guess what happens next? Will there be jokes about cheesy 80’s trends? Someone is wearing a “Miami Vice” t-shirt. Will there be jokes about things people in the 80’s didn’t know were coming? Someone from the 80’s asks cluelessly, “What is email?” Will men who never figured out how to be grown-ups go back to being kids and learn that they didn’t know how to do that, either? Will there be appearances by performers from the 80’s intended to make us feel nostalgic but in reality just reminding us of how old they are now? Watch for Chevy Chase and, reminding us in addition about how much worse this is than “Back to the Future,” Crispin Glover. And then, just to throw everything possible into the mix, let’s add some raunchy humor with a lot of cheerful sexism and homophobia. Its slacker vibe matches its era, but it’s not unpretentious; it’s just lazy.
It tries hard to be outrageous, but more often it’s dull. Once again, and I’m just going to have to keep saying this until they get the message, referring to something is not the same as making a joke about it. And, for the record, let me add that jokes about and the appearance of bodily fluids are not inherently funny, either. On the other hand, if you disagree, you will love this movie.
The few bright spots include the always-welcome Craig Robinson and the on-the-brink-of-breaking-through Lizzy Caplan, still just one great part away from the big time. The un-bright spots include pretty much everything else.
Parents should know that this movie has NC-17-level sexual humor including extremely explicit references and situations, graphic humor with various bodily functions and fluids, very explicit sexual situations with female nudity, drinking, frequent and varied drug use, constant very crude and strong language, comic violence (some graphic), and characters in who are in peril and injured.
Family discussion: If you could go back in time, what would you change?
If you like this, try: “Knocked Up” and “The Hangover”