John Cusack, his nephew, played by Clark Duke (Superbad), and two of his buddies—the show-stealing Rob Corddry (TV’s The Daily Show, Every Will Ferrell Movie Ever) and, in his funniest role yet, Craig Robinson (Zack & Miri Make a Porno, TV’s The Office)—get drank and go back in time in a Jacuzzi on the balcony outside their hotel room in a ski resort. Freaked out by the possibility of the butterfly effect, they decide they must do exactly what they did on the same night 25 years ago, lest the universe implode and their future lives be forever altered.
For Cusack, this involves breaking up with his girlfriend; for Corddry, it involves drunkenly (very drunkenly) sleeping with Cusack’s sister—this all takes place with a backdrop of a skiing competition called “Winterfest ’86” and a show by the hair-metal band Poison at the zenith of their popularity. The script is almost all expletives and juvenile—but hilarious—jokes; there’s very little story outside of the above outline. But there are plenty of fun moments, and references to heaps of movies and TV shows: The Terminator, Back to the Future, Saturday Night Live, 21 Jump Street to name but a few.
(Red Dawn, the so-bad-it’s-brilliant 1984 brat-pack teen war drama set in an alternate future North America under attack from encroaching Soviet armies, plays a major role toward the end as some dumb teenage jocks find a can of “Chernobly”—the illegal-in-the-US energy drink that spilled onto the hot tub controls and started the whole mess in the first pace—and assume that the US is being invaded by pinko lefty commies.)
Thomas Lennon has an awesome cameo in the first scene, and Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover both play small but hilarious parts: Chase as The Ghost of Time Travel Movies Past (basically an analogue for BTTF’s Doctor Emmet Brown) and Glover as a one-armed hotel porter who, back in the ’80s, still had both arms—the joke is when and how he loses the arm, and a scene in which he bounces between floors in an elevator is one of the best in the movie.
Cusack’s own cinematic past is mined too: there’s a subtle reference to Better Off Dead, and a scene towards the end apes Sixteen Candles—but instead of playing the dweeb, Cusack is a stand-in for Jack Ryan, and he sits cross-legged in a candle-lit room opposite a SPIN magazine journalist played by Lizzy Caplan (TV’s True Blood, Party Down), a dead ringer for Zooey Deschanel, Katy Perry or Sean Young-circa-Blade Runner.
Basically, it’s The Hangover meets all sorts of time-travel movies, set in 1986—in other words, a hell of a lot of fun.