Hot Tub Junket Machine: A Whimsical Recollection
Sitting down with those involved with making Hot Tub Time Machine is not something you do to garner information. When dealing with a roomful of comedians, mostly you’re going to get dick jokes and people feigning marijuana tokes. But enough about my disruptive behavior. I did have chance to sit down with many of those involved with the film at a junket round table, where a bunch of them sit on one side and a bunch of us (critics) sit on the other. This is a recollection of what happened.
Steve Pink, Director
When Mr. Pink first walked into the room, he immediately singled me out as the writer from Film School Rejects, because Cole Abaius wrote an article titled “Hot Tub Time Machine Trailer Still Not Funny.” Turns out Pink reads our site and read between the lines, figuring out Cole “fucking hated it.” Thanks, Cole. Luckily, Steve Pink is a fan of the first amendment allowing free speech and I threw Cole under the bus immediately. We then got down to business.
Business, of course, being bullshitting about an R-Rated comedy entitled Hot Tub Time Machine. Pink was quick to give credit (or blame) to screenwriter Josh Heald, but he, and everyone at the junket, openly acknowledged that HTTM has a silly name and that’s part of the charm – you’re not going to rewrite history with this film, despite the film being about rewriting history. Questions quickly turned to working with John Cusack, something Pink has done extensively, most often as producer. Of course they like each other, though he described the relationship as Highlander-esque, meaning there can be only one. So either Pink is going to cut Cusack’s head off, or they have a healthy relationship, complete with some tug of war.
In terms of the film, perhaps Pink’s easiest job was working with the squirrel, which he described as kind of brain damaged. That, in animal wrangling terms, is a God send, sense the squirrel would just chill out and climb on people’s faces rather than freaking out and pissing everywhere. Second easiest was the freedom associated with making an R-Rated film. The director gave credit to Apatow for helping rescue the R-Rated comedy, and described it’s virtues as an inherent flexibility that allows you to maintain tone and keep things sincere. Young men are dirty, foul people and to see them act otherwise is insincere and PG-13. In speaking about his previously directed film Accepted, Pink laments the lack of sex that was in the movie, something hampered by the rating. After all, if you created your own college, wouldn’t you be interested in boobs?
Instead of asking serious questions, we preferred to just shoot the breeze with Pink, which lead to his drug smuggling tips (use a briefcase, it’s not suspicious) and the soon to be infamous bear. You’ve no doubt seen the bear in the trailer and he’s an omnipresent force in the film – showing up even when it doesn’t make sense, just because he’s fun. Pink readily gave credit to his 1st ADs and the Wardrobe department who found the bear and kept ushering him into the scenes. The HTTM director recommends, and I endorse, a bear drinking game – take a drink any time you see him, but you better not be driving home.
Final Thoughts – Steve Pink is a cool dude with a level head and Accepted is better than he thinks.
Rob Corddry, Cark Duke, Craig Robinson, actor folks
If you put two comedians in a room together, you’ll never get a straight answer. Add a third to the mix and it’s a free for all. All that I learned during this round table was how to laugh. And love. And that when you hire John Cusack, shit gets real. Also, Craig Robinson has a band called The Nasty Delicious.
Oh, and the original title of the film was “Hot Tub Time Machine – Based on the Incredible True Story” and the preferred tagline was “From the Guys who Brought You Hot Tub Time Machine.” You see, that’s time travel humor. Around this time, things went south and turned to renting hot tubs for sex and sucking on pickles.
Lizzy Caplan, Collette Wolfe, attractive lady folk
Much like with the boys above, speaking with the girls yielded little usable information. Collette loved the role she had in the film as she was finally able to embrace the 80s and rock her hair out all crazy. Lizzy Caplan liked the title, though she recommends perhaps altering your state of consciousness before observing.
Wolfe can next be seen in 100 Questions in May, though she revealed her dream gig would be a long term sit-com. Caplan can be seen on Party Down Season 1 on Netflix, Season 2 comes to Starz soon.
Every so often there is hub-bub about critics being bought off by set visits and what not, so in all openness, you should know how this junket went down. First, MGM flew me out to Reno, Nevada. Then they drove me (and a bunch of others) to a hotel near Lake Tahoe. We each got our own room and our meals comped to the tune of $75 a day. We went to a rocking 80s party, had a lot of free drinks, and our hotel had a hot tub and a heated pool. They also gave me a bookbag. Virtually all junkets are the exact opposite of this – you drive to a hotel, wait around, talk for 15 minutes to each group and leave. This junket, to my understanding, was arranged to run in concert with radio contests nationwide. The people who won the contests were flown to Tahoe and got the same treatment. Our screening was rowdy and full of radio winners. Since MGM was already throwing this radio party, they figured “Why not bring in the critics and get it all over with?” Works for me!
The reason I share this with you is openness. I went to Lake Tahoe Friday and was back in LA on Sunday. But it was a blast of a weekend with my online peeps. Know that several outlets (TV, Radio, and Online) were here and all go the same experience. For me personally, I stand that my review of the film is unbiased and would have been the same regardless. But I don’t think it would be right to not let this information out there. Transparency is the name of the game.