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Hot Tub Time Machine (Cert 15, 94 mins) Starring: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase.

What's it about? After party guy Lou (Corddry) attempts to commit suicide, childhood pals Adam (Cusack) and Nick (Robinson) rush to his hospital bedside. The three men decide to return to the ski resort that was the site of their greatest triumphs when they were teenagers. Thankfully the hot tub still works and after a night of heavy drinking under the stars, the drunkards wake to find that they have been sent back to the decade of Adam, Nick and Lou's youth.

Is it any good? Hot Tub Time Machine is a raunchy buddy comedy that basks in the glow of nostalgia. Alas, screenwriters Josh Heald, Sean Anders and John Morris fail to deliver on the cute dramatic conceit, relying on obligatory gross-out moments such as Lou pulling out his catheter in hospital and splashing his pals with urine.

Characters are sketched thinly and we have to take the various romances on trust because there is no evidence of the men falling in love on screen. Cusack, a pin-up in the 1980s, is lifeless next to Corddry's foul-mouthed character and the toe-tapping soundtrack of Cutting Crew, Men Without Hats, Salt-N-Pepa and Spandau Ballet.

Cemetery Junction (Cert 15, 90 mins) Starring: Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, Jack Doolan, Felicity Jones, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Matthew Goode, Ricky Gervais.

What's it about? Best friends Freddie (Cooke), Bruce (Hughes) and Snork (Doolan) have very different outlooks on life. Freddie dreams of something bigger and better. So he applies for a job as a door-to-door salesman with Vigilant Life Assurance. The firm is owned by Mr Kendrick (Fiennes), the father of old school sweetheart Julie (Jones), who is now dating the company's top salesman, Mike Ramsay (Goode). As Freddie's ambitions broaden, the three young men are forced to re-examine their friendship and contemplate whether their paths must diverge.

Is it any good? If screenwriters Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant had been asked to pen an episode of long-running ITV drama Heartbeat, albeit with fruitier language, this would be the result. Set to a soundtrack of T Rex, Led Zeppelin, Mott The Hoople and The Osmonds, this predictable rites of passage yarn jives lazily through a linear narrative of selfishness and redemption. Gervais and Merchant cannot resist neatly tying up every loose end in a manner that strains credibility. Gags about Elton John's sexuality, the meaning of Snork's nickname and the bell on Noddy's hat are recycled to the point that 90 minutes feels uncomfortably devoid of substance.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 28, 2010
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