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Director Steve Pink talks about his high school buddies movie, 'Hot Tub'

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 an interview with the Times. Here are some highlights of the conversation.

Hot Tub Time Machine isn't really an '80s movie, I noticed.

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.

So what was Cusack like in high school?

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.

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.

Come on! Better than Casablanca?

That's more than 50 years old, my friend.

Wow. I'm glad that it's even in your top 25 or top 10 even.

Was it Cusack's best movie?

I don't know. He's done a lot of good ones. I consider the movies we did together among his best movies, because I have a tremendous ego. (Laughs). But yeah, High Fidelity was such a great combination of things that came together: Stephen Frear's directing, us shooting in Chicago, Jack Black coming on to do it. Basically we didn't screw up Nick Hornby's book.

Hollywood seems in love lately with remaking '80s movies. Is that really a good idea?

I'm going to wager that your opinion is that it's a bad idea.

Well, yeah. I mean, why remake Red Dawn?

Umm, because it was awesome. How old are you?

Same as you, early 40s.

So that's the problem. It's like yesterday to us. But it's a million years ago for everyone else. Hollywood always reaches into the future and reaches into the past and they look for great properties to make a good movie out of.

Speaking of borrowing ideas, are you cool with critics comparing Hot Tub Time Machine to The Hangover.

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?

Steve Spears writes the Stuck in the '80s blog. Read more at or e-mail him at

Director Steve Pink talks about his high school buddies movie, 'Hot Tub' 03/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 25, 2010 10:16am]
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