Film / Hot Tub Time Machine

"It must be some kind of... hot tub time machine."
Nick Webber-Agnew

A 2010 comedy film directed by Steve Pink (also known for doing Accepted) that features an ensemble cast including John Cusack, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson.

Friends Adam (Cusack), Lou (Corddry), and Nick (Robinson), along with Adam's nephew Jacob (Clark Duke), take a trip to a ski resort where Adam, Lou and Nick used to hang out to relive good times after Lou attempts suicide. However, while getting drunk in a hot tub, Lou spills some Chernobly (a type of Russian Red Bull) onto the hot tub controls, turning it into a time machine. The hot tub sends the four back to 1986, where Adam, Lou and Nick have regained their youth and replaced their 1986 selves. (Jacob, for some reason, is not a zygote. This goes unexplained, though he occasionally goes static like a television image with poor reception.)

A hot-tub repairman (Chevy Chase), who may or may not be Mr. Exposition, occasionally drops by to have Cryptic Conversations about how to return to 2010 and the consequences of changing the past. This, however, doesn't stop the three from trying, much to the dismay of Jacob, who feels that their actions may put his very existence in jeopardy via the Butterfly Effect.

The last film to be distributed by MGM before its bankruptcy and reorganization as a pure producer and co-funder.

A sequel was released on February 20, 2015, and takes place 10 years in the future.

This film contains examples of:

  • Analogy Backfire:
    Adam: By the way, where does it say in the fucking Friendship Handbook that you are the only one who's allowed any fucking problems?
    Lou: I forgot that it says in the Asshole Handbook that you can just fuck over your friends whenever you want!
    Adam: Actually, it would say that in the Asshole Handbook if it was, like, guidelines for being an asshole, that's what it would say.
  • And Starring: The film buries an "and introducing William Zabka"note  after the cast list in the end crawl, presumably as a joke note .
  • Artistic License History:
    • Mtley Cre's "Home Sweet Home" was already released in 1985; a year before it would have been possible for Lou to create the song.
    • A poster for Rambo 3 is seen on Blane's bedroom wall, despite the film being set over two years before Rambo 3 was released in May of 1988.
    • Poison performing at Kodiak Valley is seen as a big deal and April is covering the band for Spin Magazine, but in 1986 Poison had not yet achieved mainstream fame (that wouldn't happen until 1987).
    • Blaine references 21 Jump Street when he's arguing that the mains are Commie spies, but that didn't debut until 1987.
    • The first time Blaine and Chaz see Jacob, they act as though they've never seen a snowboard before and don't know what it is. Snowboarding has existed as a sport as far back as the 1970s, although in 1986 it was still a niche sport and most ski areas did not allow snowboarders. Still, the ski patrol personnel at Kodiak Valley would definitely know what a snowboard was.
    • The Denver Broncos' game winning drive in the AFC Championship game is lampooned despite it taking place in 1987.
    • Adam references "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses. Appetite For Destruction didn't come out until 1987, and the song itself wasn't released as a single until 1988.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Invoked. When pretending to be a Russian spy, Nick brandishes the can of Chernobly like it was a bomb and repeatedly shouts "Dosvedanya!", which is Russian for "Goodbye" or "Farewell."
  • Aside Glance: After declaring that the hot tub must be "some kind of... hot tub time machine" following the group's journey back in time, Nick shoots an exasperated look to the camera.
  • Bad Future: Inverted, as the movie starts out in one. Nick works a dead-end job of cleaning dogs' anuses, Jacob lives in his uncle's basement, and Lou's life is so bad, he attempts suicide. At the end of the film, Nick lives his dream of being a musician, Lou becomes a billionaire by exploiting what he knew would happen after the '80s, and Jacob lives with his rich father.
  • Basement-Dweller: In the beginning of the film, Jacob lives in his uncle Adam's basement and refuses to get a job or do anything with his life.
  • Butt-Monkey: Throughout the course of the film, Lou receives the most physical injuries of the protagonists, including being chased by a gang of Knight Templars accusing him of being a Soviet spy.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The film has the scene where the characters realize that the hot tub has taken them back in time. When this dawns upon Nick, he says, "It must be some sort of... hot tub time machine," and then turns to stare at the audience.
  • Butterfly of Doom: The protagonists transported from 2010 to The '80s are Genre Savvy enough to avert this. They even reference the butterfly effect. They set out to do everything their '80s selves would've done in the same way they would've done it.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: After Jacob sees Lou is having sex with Kelly, he becomes completely flabbergasted that this makes Lou his father, which Jacob sees as a sort of Moral Event Horizon.
    Jacob: "I always knew there was a reason I hated you!"
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The squirrel Lou projectile vomits on later changes the original outcome of a football game Lou bet on.
  • Chronic Evidence Retention Syndrome: Adam keeps a box marked "Cincinnati" in his closet, which is apparently evidence of a shameful and shocking Noodle Incident. His friends are horrified that he'd not only keep whatever is inside the box, but plainly mark it "Cincinnati." Adam protests that he can't just throw something like that away, and he had to mark it so he'd know which box it's in.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Happens when Nick, Adam, and Jacob burst in on Lou and Kelly.
  • Compound Interest Time Travel Gambit: Happens at the end, when Lou decides to stay in the past and is seen as a billionaire when everyone else returns to the present, having used his knowledge of the events in between.
  • Delayed Ripple Effect: Obviously as an homage to Back to the Future, Jacob starts to flicker and disappear as his parents' mating session is interrupted.
  • Dirty Communists: The time travelers are mistaken for communist spies trying to overthrow the American government, after Blaine and the ski patrol find their modern cell phones and MP3 players (which they think are spy gadgets), and their can of Chernobly.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Jenny stabbing Adam in the eye for breaking up with her is treated fairly trivially. Despite knowing what she did Adam and his friends still think he shouldn't have broken up with her and when Adam does get angry at her its for her hypocrisy for getting mad at him when she was going to break up with him anyway not for being violent in the first place. Not once does anyone comment that stabbing someone in the eye is a despicable, abusive act.
  • Driven to Suicide: At the end of the film Lou confesses that he was trying to kill himself at the start of the film.
  • invoked Dude, Not Funny!: Kelly is appalled when Lou starts laughing at the Bellhop losing his arm.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The 1986 portion of the movie plays out during one night.
  • Eye Scream: Averted with Adam, who was stabbed in the eyebrow. Still, pretty close call.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: At the beginning of the film, Nick has a job cleaning shit out of dogs' asses.
  • The Fatalist: Adam.
    Adam: All the choices we make in our life are pointless. There's no escaping the inevitable.
  • Fight Fur Your Right To Party: A music-driven montage showing the main characters enjoying the titular hot tub while getting hammered. At some point the increasingly fragmented and spinning shots start showing a guy in a large bear suit partying with them.
  • For Want of a Nail: The bar bet turns into a nightmare for Lou. The squirrel that was vomited on in an earlier scene changes the history of the NFL playoff game as it disrupts John Elway's pass on the field.
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: Played for Laughs - Lou decides to stay in the 1980s instead of returning to his present, and spends the intervening time becoming a billionaire by getting in on the ground floor of every important innovation since between then and now.
  • Going Fur a Swim: One of the ladies in the film is clearly wearing just a bikini top beneath her fur jacket.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Lou is as bald as the actor who plays him - Rob Corddry. When they first arrive in the past he goes to take a piss and catches sight of himself in the mirror. He's so in awe of his own former glory that he doesn't even stop pissing as he turns to stare in dumbfounded wonder.
  • Hevy Mtal mlaut: Mötley Lüe, Lou's multi-platinum-selling band in which he rose to fame after deciding to stay in the past.
  • Henpecked Husband: Nick starts out as this, becoming a hyphenate (taking his wife's last name), giving up his dream of being a musician to please her, and putting up with his wife cheating on him because he doesn't have the courage to confront her about it.
  • High Concept: "Must be some sort of... hot tub time machine."
  • Humiliating Wager: The humiliating bar bet on the outcome of a football game. Because they slightly changed the timeline, the game ends differently, so Lou loses his bet and has to give Nick a blow job in front of everybody.
  • I Choose to Stay: Lou chooses to stay his younger self in 1986 and relive his life, instead of going back to 2010 with his friends. Adam also chooses to stay behind, but ends up falling into the hot tub during the return trip.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Adam, Nick and Jacob walk in on Lou having sex with Adam's sister, meaning Jacob witnesses his own conception...sort of. When he tries to attack Lou, he disappears. Coitus Uninterruptus has to ensue to ensure Jacob lives.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Believing Lou to be asleep, Nick and Adam start listing off all the reasons why Lou's life sucks and why he'd want to kill himself. Lou is not asleep, and he calls them out for it.
  • Invaded States of America: Discussed. Blaine's gang thinks that the time traveling main characters are actually Soviet spies, due to their odd behavior, and the modern-day gadgets that he found in their bags. He mentions the film Red Dawn (1984), which he owns a poster of in his room.
  • Knight Templar: Blaine and his ski patrol friends. They have a legitimate mission of maintaining law and order on the mountain, but they use this and the Red Scare as an excuse to be Jerkasses.
  • MacGuffin: The can of Chernobly turned out to be what re-activates the time machine. As the can causes the group of protagonists to be Mistaken for Spies, however, the can is stolen by a group of Knight Templars who think the can is secretly a bomb.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: April. Played surprisingly straight, she just appears in Adam's life, fixates on him (particularly odd, since she's apparently an established music journalist and Adam's a teenager), takes him out of the dull funk that he's in, and even engages in some low-level breaking and entering for the sake of romance.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The film repeatedly draws attention to this trope and straddles a strange line between playing it straight and parodying it in the character of the Hot Tub repair man, who may just be a cloudcuckoolander repair man, or may be some sort of Time Police setting the time travelers on their way. Jacob even lampshades it, by noting that the repairman's words perfectly support either theory, and asks if it would kill the repairman to just give him a straight answer.
  • Mental Time Travel: Everyone takes the appearance of their younger selves with the exception of Jacob, who was conceived on the day the group travel to.
  • Metal Head: The teenage version of Lou has long hair, a leather jacket, and an Iron Maiden t-shirt. Making him a pretty typical 1980s metalhead.
  • Mistaken for Spies: Because the group has 21st technology such as iPods and cell phones that Blaine and his gang confuse with spy equipment and the fact that Lou was carrying Chernobly, Blaine assumes that all of them are Soviet spies.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: The film has one of these when the four protagonists reach the ski lodge and realize that it's The '80s. Featuring leg warmers, Reagan, '80s Hair, Miami Vice T-shirts, cassette players, cell phones the size of bricks, MTV playing music videos, and more all to set the mood.
    Nick: What color is Michael Jackson?
    Girl: Black?
    Nick: <runs screaming>
  • Modesty Bedsheet: When Adam, Nick, and Jacob walk in on Lou and Kelly having sex, the bedsheet is positioned to prevent any kind of nudity from being seen.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Tara (the busty groupie that Nick hooks up with) and Zoe (the girl who "only does two at a time"). Both women have very small roles, yet both appear topless. One of the red band trailers for the film consisted solely of alternate topless footage of Tara bouncing up and down in the tub.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Nick's best line in the trailer, re: his fetish for The Golden Girls, isn't in the movie.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Adam, Nick and Lou twice perform a reverent (and unexplained) round chant of "Great white buffalo..."
    • Whatever happened in Cincinnati. Lou is horrified that Nick kept something from the incident in his closet, labelled "Cincinnati" no less, but Nick implies that it would be too dangerous to try to dispose of it.
  • Nostalgia Filter: At first Adam can't remember why he broke up with his old girlfriend, Jenny, and because he only recalls good things about her he believes that he made a huge mistake by dumping her. Once we actually meet her in the past and find out how shallow and crazy she is, it's not hard to see why Adam dumped her. But he was still unhappy with the whole situation.
  • Not Good with Rejection: In the original timeline, Jenny stabs Adam in the eye with a fork after he breaks up with her.
  • The Obi-Wannabe: The mysterious repairman delivers lots of cryptic and ominous-sounding warnings, from which the gang infers that doing anything differently will screw up the timeline in unpredictable ways (like a vomit-covered squirrel changing the outcome of a pro-football game). They end up defying him, and it turns out to be largely BS as Lou stays in the past to redo his life and makes his life infinitely better by the present day.
  • The One That Got Away: Adam views his old girlfriend Jenny as this. But once he goes back in time and starts hanging out with her again it's easy to see why he broke up with her. Then he becomes depressed about it, especially after finding out she was originally gonna dump him, believing the choices he made in his life are pointless.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The whole movie has a deep teal and orange tint.
  • Our Time Machine Is Different: The Hot Tub. Seems obvious, right?
  • Pet the Dog: Blaine and his ski patrol buddies spend most of the film as complete jerkasses, but in the end they manage to redeem themselves somewhat by working quickly and professionally to save the Bellhop's arm.
  • Pillar of Light: When transporting the group back to the present, the hot tub builds a glowing vortex reaching into the sky.
  • Portal Pool: A hot tub serves as a portal to the past.
  • Really Gets Around: Adam's sister, Kelly. The first time we meet her she openly expresses her desire to have sex with a member of the ski patrol. Later that night, she ends up having drunken sex with Lou (and conceiving Jacob in the process).
  • Repeating Ad: On the weekend it came out in theatres, commercials for the film could be seen nine times in just over an hour.
  • Running Gag:
    • The bellhop repeatedly failing to lose his arm in situations where he should have.
    • In the deleted scenes, it's revealed that Miss Only-Does-Two-Guys-At-A-Time ensnared a significant percentage of the male cast during the night, but each time one of them running off.
  • Suck E. Cheese's: Adam tells a story about how his father (and several others) died of salmonella poisoning after going to The Enchanted Forest of Pizza, a fantasy-themed pizza place.
  • Suddenly Sober: Adam takes coke, weed and mushrooms in his hotel room and can't even get up from the floor. His nephew, Jacob, then bursts into the room and tells him he needs his help. Adam is completely sober in the next scene.
  • A Threesome is Manly: Lou and Jacob meet a woman who claims she only does "two at a time." But Jacob refuses to participate, much to Lou's disappointment.
    Lou: Every young man dreams of having a threesome!
    Jacob: Not with another dude!
    Lou: It's still a threesome!
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Lou is this for the gang. His nonstop obnoxious jerkass streak and overall sociopathic self-destructive tendencies that often put him and his friends in peril lead the rest of the gang to despise him greatly despite still choosing to hang around him. Even his own son and wife as seen in the sequel if Lou continued his ways found him to be a "virus" and want nothing to do with him.
  • Time Travelers Are Spies: Blaine and the ski patrol mistake the main characters for Soviet spies after finding their cell phones and MP3 players (which they think are spy gadgets), and their can of Chernobly energy drink with its Cyrillic lettering (which they think is a bomb).
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The film is really inconsistent with its time travel mechanics. Four friends travel back to one day in 1986 and hijack their younger bodies, so everyone sees them as their younger selves. Except one of the friends - Jacob - wasn't born yet and looks the same in the past as he did in the present, and can also interact with the past, but whenever something happens that might possibly stop his conception he flickers out temporarily. Initially the friends, fearing the Butterfly of Doom, try to enact a Stable Time Loop by making sure the big events they remember from that night still happen, but then they change their minds and try to make sure the night goes better the second time around. Some of the big events they remember still happen no matter what they do, but no in the way they remember them. Other events they really do alter. Meanwhile they directly or indirectly cause a couple of historical changes. In the end Lou decides to stay behind and use his knowledge of the future to greatly improve his and everyone's lives. When the other three friends get back they all have much better lives but do not remember them.
  • Title Drop: "It must be some kind of...Hot Tub Time Machine." Craig Robinson lampshades the trope by delivering a deadpan Aside Glance to the camera immediately after saying the line.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Depending on which trailer you saw, one of them shows Lou aboard the huge yacht he bought himself after inventing Lougle, therefore spoiling the fact that he stays in the past.
    • Another trailer showed Jacob seeing his mother in 1986, and then shows her in bed with Lou saying "I feel pregnant".
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Nick's younger self is having hot tub sex with a girl named Tara.
  • Weirdness Search and Rescue: The guy who fixes the hot tub and acts like he knows about time travel. However, he doesn't tell them about the time travel.
  • Wealthy Ever After: The film ends with Lou remaining in the past and using his knowledge of the future for personal financial gain. By present day he is a multi-billionaire. His other friends are also better off than they were before their time travel adventure.
  • Wealthy Yacht Owner: Lou exploits his knowledge of the future to become a billionaire. At the end of the film he is seen aboard a huge yacht named Violator.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After being beaten up by Blaine and his friends, Lou emotionally chastises Nick and especially Adam for being piss-poor friends who are never around when he needs them. Adam argues at first, but eventually has to admit that Lou is right.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: In-Universe. Adam's fake Russian accent sounds nothing like a real Russian accent.
  • What Year Is This?: A clever variation appears: instead of directly asking the year, Nick asks, "What color is Michael Jackson?" (The answer "black" confirms he has traveled into the past).
  • Wrong Name Outburst: During Nick's intense pool sex scene he shouts out the name of his wife, Courtney, while the girl insists on being called Tara.

Alternative Title(s): Hot Tub Time Machine 2