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Deconstructing 'Hot Tub Time Machine'
America's most cerebral critics are finding Proustian meaning in the new film that's being sold as a dumb, frat comedy
 
Chevy Chase stars in "Hot Tub Time Machine."
Chevy Chase stars in "Hot Tub Time Machine."
MGM Studios

You'd think discerning filmgoers would shun this weekend's big comedy, Hot Tub Time Machine. After all, how stimulating could a movie about four guys who travel back to the 1980s in a magical jacuzzi be? Surprisingly, however, critics are waxing philosophical over the film's themes of disillusionment and wish fulfilment. Here, a brief sampling of the ecstatic egghead responses:

The New York Times on: The existentialist subtext
The true subject of this "poignant" tale, writes A.O. Scott in The New York Times, is the "disappointment that threads through every phase of the life cycle." The "cultural detritus" of the 1980s, although endlessly "recycled, cherished, mocked, and travestied, provides small — but nonetheless real — compensation for the spiritual deficits of modern life."

The Village Voice on: The retro-'80s cri de coeur against conformity
The "potent emotional fuel powering Hot Tub Time Machine," says Dan Kois in The Village Voice, is the "wincing nostalgia" we feel when forced to reconsider our "Reagan-era selves." By recycling the "cris de coeur against conformity" of 1980s comedies, Hot Tub taps into the "collective unconscious of the 34–45 demographic" and pays "worthwhile tribute" to a little-appreciated film era.

Entertainment Weekly on: The evocation of sexual innocence
"Two concepts" in Hot Tub Time Machine "lend themselves to close critical analysis," muses Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly. "One involves the hot tub, or specifically "the act of submerging one's naked body in warm, bubbling water in an open-air setting," and its pivotal role in "dreams of getting it on." The other, time travel, confronts viewers with the "brain-searing notion" that our parents once, "you know, Did It."

 

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