Archive for May 18th, 2010

Best friends Adam (John Cusack), Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry) have drifted apart since their youth. After Lou is involved in an accident that looks like a suicide attempt the friends get back together for a weekend of skiing and partying in the resort they used to go to in the 80’s along with Adam’s nephew Jacob (Clark Duke). After a drunken night in a hot tub they wake up in 1986.

Two genres that while not exclusive to the 80s but were certainly popular were base comedies and time travel movies it therefore makes perfect sense to make a movie that combines the two genres set in the 80s. And casting Back to the Future’s Crispin Glover is approaching geniuses, the casting in general is pretty good especially John Cusack and Clark Duke the later providing a grounding for the movie especially for people too young to remember the 80s setting, he also provides the most blatant Back to the Future rip-off/homage.

The big problem with the concept is the characters motivation to get home, Beyond Jacob who is a fish out of water in the past, the other time travellers probably have more motivation to stay and re-live the last twenty-four years than they have to rush back to the present day. The other big problem from a comic point of view, Chevy Chase is totally wasted. They really could have made better use of the music of the time.

Ultimately despite some really good ideas and performances the film just isn’t funny enough to be great, it also loses marks for reminding me that I had a bright multicoloured ski jacket back in the late 80s early 90s.

Three Stars out of Five



And to round things off, here are my top five eighties time travel movies:

  1. The Terminator (1984): The Terminator skilfully blends genres, as well as the time travel it is a great action thriller, it has elements of a war movie, it is great science fiction and probably the most mainstream cyberpunk movie ever. It is also the most significant movie of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career. The biggest problem with making time travel in a movie is justifying its existence, if time travel were possible why haven’t we heard about it before? In terminator that is easily brushed aside but the paradox of time travel isn’t, it lingers on after the movie has finished.
  2. Back To the Future (1985): Looking back twenty-five years (that makes me feel old) tells us what a great movie Back to the Future was. The clever script by Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale is just brilliant, the paradox of time travel is as well captured as in Terminator and dialogue is funnier than Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure. Everything is held together by a charismatic central performance from Michael J Fox. And one final note on the movie if you are going to make a time machine in the 80’s is there anything more iconic you could have made it out of than a DeLorean?
  3. Trancers (1985): Evil criminal Whistler uses his powerful hypnotic ability to transform the week minded into zombie like drones (trancers) to do his bidding. Avoiding capture he travels back in time from 2247 to 1985 inhabiting the body of one of his ancestors. He is closely followed by hardboiled detective Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson). Its cheep cheery fun that doesn’t have the budget or production values of Back to The Future but that really doesn’t matter. Also look out for a young Helen Hunt as the love interest.
  4. Time Bandits (1981): Director Terry Gilliam first foray into time travel. A young boy travels through a “time hole” in his bedroom and is taken on adventure with a group of dwarves who travel through time looking for treasure to steal. The movie boasts an excellent cast that includes former Pythons a future Hobbit and a former James Bond. The overall result is a bit of a mixed bag but the visual style set the tone for the director’s future work and has been very influential.
  5. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989): Before he learnt surf, before he discovered he was The One and before he found a bomb on a bus Keanu Reeves was Ted Logan, along with his buddy Bill S. Preston, Esq. (former Lost Boy Alex Winter) he travelled the through time and space to avoid failing his history exam and save the future in the process. The whole “Party on, dudes!” thing has been done to death so the movie feels tired now but is still worth a look if you haven’t seen it.

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