Mistakes are part of life. When they happen, we may wish for a time machine so we can go back in time and prevent such mistakes. But what would happen if a time machine really existed?
In the 2010 movie, Hot Tub Time Machine, Adam (John Cusack) is throwing himself a pity party. As are two of his friends. In an effort to revive their spirits, Adam, his friends, and his nephew go on a trip to a dilapidated ski resort that was a party spot in the ’80s. After drinking one too many alcoholic beverages, and sitting in the hot tub, all four men are transported back to 1986. Their goal is to undo their mistakes and ensure that Adam’s nephew comes into existence. But that is obviously easier said than done.
It’s one of those movies that could easily turn into a raunchy boys road trip comedy. But there is something to be said about an opportunity to change one’s future and preventing mistakes that could forever change the course of your life.
*Warning: this post contains spoilers read at your own risk.
On November 21st, 1997, the animated film Anastasia hit theaters.
Loosely based on the myth that Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia somehow survived the murder of her family in 1918, Anya (voiced by Meg Ryan) is an orphan who wants nothing more to find her family. Two con men, Dimitri (voiced by John Cusack) and Vladimir (Kelsey Grammer) convince her that she is Anastasia. Unbeknownst to Anya, there is a reward for the safe return of the grand duchess to her grandmother, The Dowager Empress Marie (voiced by Angela Lansbury). Neither Dimitri or Vladimir had any plans of splitting the reward with Anya, if she is believed to be Anastasia.
While this is happening, Rasputin (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) has risen from the dead and is eager to finish what he started ten years ago.
I look at this film, as I do its 1956 predecessor starring Yul Brynner and Ingrid Bergman, as a what if version of history. Especially in regards to the fact that Anastasia and Dimitri lived happily ever after. Marriages between commoners and royalty did not happen in that period.
Granted, the remains of all of the Romanovs were not found and made saints of the Russian Orthodox Church until after this film came out. This left wiggle room for the screenwriters to use the myth of the surviving Anastasia as the skeleton of the narrative.
As a narrative loosely based on a myth, it’s a reasonably good film. But to hold it up as historical fact requires a bit too much for me.
End of the world movies are nothing new. While these movies are known for their special effects, it is the narrative and character development that makes or breaks films that fall within this genre.
In the 2009 movie, 2012, Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) must not only deal with the turmoil in his family, he must also deal with the fact that earth will no longer be inhabitable. While there are arks to save humanity, the arks cannot hold everyone. If nothing else, Jackson wants to rebuild his marriage with Kate (Amanda Peet) and make sure that their family survives. The question is will both happen or will they join the millions whose lives will be potentially lost?
As end of the world movies go, this one is not bad. What makes it stand out for me, is that as much as it is about the world ending, it is about a man trying to hold onto his family and his marriage. For that reason, this film rises above the standard end of the world film.