The film follows three friends who have been in a rut in their lives: Adam Yates (John Cusack) is dumped by his girlfriend; Nick Webber-Agnew (Craig Robinson) is a henpecked husband with a dead-end job at a dog spa; and Lou Dorchen (Rob Corddry) is a party animal in his 40s. When Lou is hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning, Adam and Nick sympathetically take him and Adam's shut-in nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) to a ski resort at Kodiak Valley, where the three had some good times in the past. During a night of heavy drinking in the hotel room's hot tub, they spill the contents of a drink called Chernobly on the console.
The next day, the friends go skiing, but after too many strange occurrences (people dressed in 1980s fashion, music videos on MTV, and Michael Jackson still being black), they realize they have traveled back to 1986. Not only that, but they have also assumed their younger bodies: they see each other as their normal age, but in their reflections and to other people, they appear as they did back then, except Jacob, who appears as himself but occasionally flickers.
A mysterious hot tub repairman (Chevy Chase) appears and warns them not to change anything as it might affect the machine. In order to minimize the butterfly effect, the guys plan to re-enact their experiences. Adam has to break up with his girlfriend Jenny (Lyndsy Fonseca) and get stabbed in the eye with a fork; Lou must pick a fight and get beaten up by Blaine (Sebastian Stan), a ski patrol bully; and Nick must have sex with a groupie, and give a bad performance with his band at an open mic event. Jacob discovers his mother Kelly (Collette Wolfe) is at the resort acting in an overtly oversexed manner.
The guys find the tasks rather difficult as Lou gets punched by Blaine and loses his backpack, but realizes he must face him again later at night, so he reluctantly challenges him again. Adam falls in love with Jenny again while meeting a music journalist named April (Lizzy Caplan) during the Poison concert. Nick worries about cheating on his wife even though the events occur before he even meets her. Later on, Lou tries to cash in on some sports betting using his knowledge of the game's outcomes; it works until he risks everything on predicting a game-winning touchdown, only to have the squirrel that he vomited on earlier at the resort crash the field and ruin the play.
Jenny turns the tables as she initiates the breakup with Adam, but Adam later meets April; they break into a nearby home and share an intimate moment. Nick changes his destiny by covering the more upbeat "Jessie's Girl", followed by a "preview version" of "Let's Get It Started". When the repairman later informs Jacob that a chemical was the key to their time travel, Jacob realizes it was the "Chernobly", an illegal Russian energy drink. The guys rescue Lou, who was beaten up without his friends again, from falling off the rooftop. They go to Blaine's cabin to search for the drink, during which Lou finds and seduces Kelly. The guys realize that Lou is actually Jacob's father. After Lou finally punches Blaine, they retrieve the Chernobly and return to the hot tub where they create a vortex. Jacob and Nick get in the tub but Lou decides to stay in 1986, admitting he had indeed attempted suicide before. Adam volunteers to stay with Lou, but Lou throws him into the vortex.
Back at the present, Adam, Nick, and Jacob discover that Lou has changed history by founding the immensely successful company "Lougle", from which he enjoys a luxurious lifestyle with Kelly. Adam discovers that he is happily married to April, and Nick discovers he is a successful music producer married to a loyal and loving Courtney. The guys reunite at Lou's mansion with their families, satisfied with their new lives. During the film's closing credits, Lou is shown to be the frontman of "Motley Lüe" and performs in the video for the song "Home Sweet Home".John Cusack as Adam Yates
Jake Rose as teenage Adam
Rob Corddry as Lou "Violator" Dorchen
Brook Bennett as teenage Lou
Craig Robinson as Nick Webber-Agnew
Aliu Oyofo as teenage Nick
Clark Duke as Jacob Yates, Adam's nerd nephew who spends his time in Adam's basement playing Second Life
Chevy Chase as Repairman, a mysterious figure who appears, gives advice, and then disappears
Collette Wolfe as Kelly Yates, Jacob's mother and Adam's sister
Crispin Glover as Phil Wedmaier, a disgruntled bellhop with only one arm. In 1986, however, both of his arms are intact, leading to a running gag of situations in which he is placed in danger of losing it.
Sebastian Stan as Blaine, a ski patrol guy who bullies and beats up Lou
Lizzy Caplan as April Drennan, a music journalist who befriends Adam
Crystal Lowe as Zoe, a girl that comes onto Lou and Jacob
Kellee Stewart as Courtney Agnew, Nick's controlling wifeOdessa Rojen as 9-year-old Courtney
Lyndsy Fonseca as Jenny, Adam's girlfriend in 1986
Charlie McDermott as Chaz
Jessica Paré as Tara, a young groupie that Nick had sex with in 1986, an act that the now-married Nick finds difficult to repeat
William Zabka as Rick Steelman, a man who makes a high-stakes bet with Lou
Josh Heald as Terry
Thomas Lennon (uncredited) as customer
Lynda Boyd (uncredited) as Adam's secretary
Diora Baird (uncredited) as Mrs. Steelman
Rob LaBelle (uncredited) as Stewart
Steve Pink directed the movie and Josh Heald wrote the screenplay. It was filmed primarily at the Vancouver Film Studios in Vancouver and the Fernie Alpine Resort in Fernie, British Columbia.
The first trailer for the film and the red-band trailer appeared on July 24, 2009, at Comic-Con 2009 and on the Internet. One of the red-band trailers consists primarily of specially shot footage (not featured in the film) of Jessica Paré's character in a tub. The film was screened for free in over 50 cities in the weeks leading up to its release.
On March 29, 2010, Corddry and Duke were guest hosts on WWE Raw from the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona, to promote the film. Robinson did make a short appearance, but only via satellite.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 63% based on 199 reviews with an average rating of 6.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Its flagrantly silly script -- and immensely likable cast -- make up for most of its flaws." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 63 out of 100 based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
The New York Times critic A. O. Scott stated that "the picture moves so quickly and crazily, swerving and skidding and doubling back for seconds, that minor lapses in wit are immediately overtaken by major (and therefore hilarious) lapses in taste." He went on to comment that, "the undercurrent of misogyny and homophobic panic that courses through most arrested-development, guy-centric comedies these days is certainly present here. But unlike, say, The Hangover, which sweetens and sentimentalizes its man-child characters—allowing them to run wild and then run home to Mommy—Hot Tub Time Machine is honest in its coarseness and pretty tough on the fellows who are the agents and objects of its satire."
Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, commenting that, "The bottom line is, gross-out guy comedies open twice a month, and many of them are wretched excesses. Hot Tub Time Machine, which wants nothing more than to be a screwball farce, succeeds beyond any expectations suggested by the title."
The film opened at #3 with a weekend gross of $14 million in 2,754 theaters, averaging $5,091 per theater. Hot Tub Time Machine grossed $50.3 million in North America and $14.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $64.6 million against a budget of $36 million.
Hot Tub Time Machine was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on June 29, 2010. An "unrated" version was also released, with the Blu-ray Disc containing a digital copy.
The soundtrack for the film, officially titled Hot Tub Time Machine (Music From the Motion Picture), was released in 2010 by Rhino Entertainment. Several of the songs were sung by members of the film.
Some tracks have artists in parentheses; this is the artist who originally performed the song.
Not included in the album
- "Louder Than a Bomb" – Public Enemy
- "Perfect Way" – Scritti Politti
- "The Safety Dance" (extended 12" EP remastered version) – Men Without Hats
- "What You Need" (Single/LP version) – INXS
- "Modern Love" (Single version; 2002 digital remaster) – David Bowie
- "I Will Dare" – The Replacements
- "Push It" (album version) – Salt-n-Pepa
- "Bring On the Dancing Horses" – Echo & the Bunnymen
- "Save It for Later" – The Beat (known as The English Beat in the USA)
- "True" – Spandau Ballet
- "Jessie's Girl" (Rick Springfield) – Craig Robinson
- "Bizarre Love Triangle" (Shep Pettibone 12" Remastered Remix) – New Order
- "Once in a Lifetime" (2006 Remastered version) – Talking Heads
- "Home Sweet Home" – Mötley Crüe (also performed by Rob Corddry during the closing credits)
- "Let's Get It Started" (The Black Eyed Peas) – Craig Robinson
- "Hero" - Enrique Iglesias
The following songs were featured in the film, but not included in the soundtrack album:"(I Just) Died in Your Arms" – Cutting Crew
"About to Burst" – Ken Tamplin
"Bar Bet" – Jake Monaco
"Blind Man" – Newton Talks
"Careless Whisper" (George Michael) – Craig Robinson
"Cry Tough" – Poison
"Cubicle" -The Ultra-Infidels
"Heaven's Sake" – Perfect
"I Can't Wait" – Nu Shooz
"I Heard a Rumor" – Ghost Swami
"I Want to Know What Love Is" – Foreigner
"Keep Your Eye on the Money" – Mötley Crüe
"Kickstart My Heart" – Mötley Crüe
"My Block" – Cham Pain
"Mystery" – The Little Wands
"Obsession" – Animotion
"Occam's Razor" – Ocha la Rocha
"Patrolio" – Jake Monaco
"Skin I'm In" – Static Revenger featuring Luciana
"Smooth Up in Ya" – BulletBoys
"Talk Dirty to Me" – Poison
"The Stripper" – David Rose
"Turn Up the Radio" – Autograph
"Venus" – The Jerry Ross Symphosium
"Yes Man" – The Little Wands
"I Will Dare" - The Replacements
Although not a huge commercial success, strong home video sales prompted a sequel to Hot Tub Time Machine. John Cusack did not return, and Adam Scott played his character's son. Although Cusack has stated on his Twitter account that he was not even asked to be a part of the sequel, Cusack makes an uncredited cameo in the unrated home video release of the film.
Released on February 20, 2015, the sequel was panned by critics and was a box office bomb, grossing less money in its entire theatrical run ($12.8 million) than the original made in its opening weekend ($14 million).