When a movie is saddled with a ridiculous name like “Hot Tub Time Machine,” the audience better be prepared for a certain level of silliness, right?
“If you don’t, you’d have trouble liking it!” says director Steve Pink, who has worked with the movie’s star, John Cusack, since the early ’80s when they were friends at Evanston Township High School in Illinois.
“Some fool put us in charge of writing the school variety show our senior year,” Pink said. “That’s how we really forged our friendship.”
Now, 26 years after graduation, the high-school buddies are together again for “Hot Tub Time Machine,” a comedy about four guys (Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry) sent back in time to 1986 and forced to relieve a pivotal weekend in their young lives.
Pink carries the movie’s in-your-face humor into our interview. Here are some highlights of the conversation.
Q: “Hot Tub Time Machine” isn’t really an ’80s movie, I noticed.
A: If you smile because you understand the references, that enhances the experience, because we’re going back to the ’80s. But what if you don’t get the reference or don’t care? Then we wouldn’t have a movie. The actors are extremely funny guys, so we had to make the comedy as contemporary as possible.
Q: So what was Cusack like in high school?
A: It’s kind of like “Highlander.” You remember that movie? They’re warriors/friends who have to battle through the ages but in the end they know there can only be one. It’s kind of like that.
Q: Now you’re working together in New Crime Productions, which did “Grosse Pointe Blank” and “High Fidelity,” maybe my favorite movie of the last 50 years.
A: Come on! Better than “Casablanca?”
Q: That’s more than 50 years old, my friend.
A: Wow. I’m glad that it’s even in your top 25 or top 10 even.
Q: Are you cool with critics comparing “Hot Tub Time Machine” to “The Hangover”?
A: Yeah, because all of all the comparisons, I’m now officially saying that “Hot Tub Time Machine” is not this year’s “Hangover,” it’s this year’s “Avatar.” (Laughs) You can see that, right?