In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

52. Hot Tub Time Machine

Century Hayward

Hayward's first theater, the Hayward Theater, was built in 1926, when the city still had fewer than five thousand residents.  The city's population exploded in the 1950s, more than quintupling in size.  By the time a fire gutted the Hayward Theater in the mid-seventies the city was home to nearly a hundred thousand people, a drive-in, another single screen (the Ritz Theater), and three multiplexes (Southland Cinemas 5United Artists 6, and Festival Cinemas).  The end of the century saw only the multiplexes left standing, and they too fell within just a few years.  This yelper puts the opening of the Century 25 Union Landing theater in 1999; Hayward's multiplexes closed in 2000, 2002, and 2003, taking Hayward from twenty screens to zero.  The city would wait five years for another theater, when in 2008 Cinemark built the twelve-screen Century at Hayward.

The theater is part of an effort to revitalize downtown Hayward; the building also contains several shops and restaurants.  My former roommate from college, a Hayward native, was in attendance with me, and said that, unfortunately, the effort doesn't seem to have succeeded.  Both the neighborhood and the theater are sparsely populated.  (The theater was over-staffed for the amount of traffic it was receiving during my visit.)

The side of the theater, visible from Mission Boulevard, sports an eclectic display of star photos, including Jennifer Lopez, Katherine Hepburn, and Jackie Chan (obviously a tribute to their failed '80s superhero franchise, in which Hepburn returns as Grace Quigley, now endowed with super strength, and teams with sultry, super-flexible, super-smart conjoined twins Lopez and Chan to battle the Inhaling Man, reprised by Nick Nolte).  Free parking is available in a garage at the rear of the theater.

Though the number of posters displayed does not necessarily correspond to how many screens are devoted to each movie, why shortchange Kick-Ass when it has four cool posters?

Tickets are available at the concession stand during non-peak times.  The concession offerings are similar to other Cafe Cinemas around the bay, with tea, cookies, ice-cream, and bin candy. The attendant, after learning about my blog, said, "Oh, cool".  I've changed my tone in describing my purpose, now saying that I'm "visiting every theater in the Bay Area and writing a blog about it", rather than "reviewing every theater in the Bay Area", which seemed to put employees on edge.  I'm tempted to drop the star-ratings from my theater entries, to make them less judgmental, but at present I'll let them stand.

The tables in the lobby have a really cool leaf pattern etched into them, trapped in perpetual Autumn.

Being a more recent addition to the circuit's vast number of theaters, the Century at Hayward has some eye toward atmosphere, lacking in most Cinemark theaters.  Yes, the ceiling comprises acoustic tiles and the casino-esque carpet is trance-inducing, but look at the decorative marquees above each auditorium entrance.

The hallways feature back-lit posters from current movies, but also classic movie posters, like MetropolisGone with the Wind, Casablanca, and Fantômas (never heard of it).

The triangular-shaped bathrooms are notable for extensive, attractive tile work, and having no paper towels (air drying only).

The theater's twelve auditoriums seat a total of 1824, ranging in size from 107 seats (of which there are six auditoriums) to 295 seats (of which there are two).  (The posted occupancy signs are the most clearly visible I've seen.) The seats themselves are tall, plush, and have an excellent recline.

Though the auditoriums are mostly plain, they are decorated with old-style light fixtures.

This theater is close to being a four-star.  The homage to classic movies is an acknowledgement of the past that most ultra-modern theaters are unwilling to make.  What makes me come down firmly on the three-star rating is that the projectionist stopped the movie in the middle of the credits.  Wow.  I have never seen that happen before.  Perhaps an honest mistake, if the projectionist thought the theater had cleared out.  But it had the effect of saying, "the show's over, folks; get out."

A wonderful mural stretches down half the alleyway beside the theater, leading to the parking garage.  The mural's depiction of the Hayward Theater provides an interesting contrast to the nearby multiplex.


A bit of trivia states that Anthony Hopkins won best actor for only sixteen minutes of screen time in The Silence of the Lambs (though his presence permeates the entire movie).  The official rules of the Oscars don't provide a minimum limit for how many minutes an actor must be on screen to qualify for the leading role.  Contrast Hopkins's performance to that of Warren Beatty in Bugsy, from the same year, with Beatty appearing in almost every scene of the film.  But I suppose the Academy has always been about quality over quantity.  An actor might be well served by a script rewrite that distills their role to only its most impressive moments, such as William Hurt's single nominated scene in A History of Violence.  Brokeback Mountain, giving equal screen time and pathos to its two main characters, saw Heath Ledger nominated for the lead, but Jake Gyllenhaal for supporting (not so in Thelma & Louise, which saw both Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon nominated for the lead).

It's interesting to look back through the nominations (not necessarily the winners), to see which actors have temporarily aligned with the Academy's favor.  We all know how much they love Meryl Streep, but I'm happy to see that they nominated Sigourney Weaver for Aliens.  It's hard to imagine a nomination today going to Kathleen Turner, Elizabeth Shue, John Travolta, Teri Garr, Uma Thurman, or even winner Nicolas Cage.  Sticking all of them in a movie together might even pass unnoticed.

An ad for a deodorant or cologne or something tells us that "women get bored easily".  A robot gives a man a makeover to advance the man past the three basic barriers.  Dressed as a preppy nerd, the man is able to walk the woman home.  Transformed into a greaser, the man gets through the front door.  We're not privy to what happens below the camera, but the ad suggests that some amount of care below the belt will seal the deal.  Quite bizarre.

The zombies are gone!  Long live the living!  Sprint's newest ad, in the same style of movie plots interrupting a phone call, groups a Glee-style song-and-dance, a mundane car chase, and a Star Wars-esque battle in front of a spaceship.  Much, much better.


Iron Man 2


Sorcerer's Apprentice (Trailer 2)
"If a sorcerer is weak, his magic is weak."  Makes sense.  Alfred Molina appears in this second trailer as the heavy, interested in "power and control" instead of "good vs. evil".  We've got plasma bolts, fireballs, long fingernails, teleporting cars, dragons, and at least one female character.  This movie will be bad.  But it's a good reminder to go watch Harry Potter.  I've enjoyed many of Jerry Bruckheimer's movies, but when I see his name on the screen, I think of Armageddon. I am not an unforgiving man, but I do have my limits.  96 cuts.

Hot Tub Time Machine
There are four moments in the trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine that should properly prepare you for your evening's entertainment.  First, someone in a bear costume falls drunk into a hot tub with four other drunk guys (= buddy comedy with alcohol, drugs, and hilarious hijinks). Second, Chevy Chase, a mysterious hot tub mechanic, provides non-specific but ominous warnings about exiting the past before it's too late (= don't question the science; just enjoy the ride). Third, in a conspiracy to leverage their knowledge of the future to profit in the past, one friend says to another that they could combine Twitter with Viagra to make Twittagra (he confesses to not actually knowing what Twitter is) (= fun time-traveling anachronisms, making fun of the '80s and the '00s in one fell swoop).  Fourth, a woman, sitting up in bed with an expression like she just smelled something awful, says, "I feel pregnant" (= gratuitous nudity and sex).  Now you're ready.

Adam (John Cusack), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Lou (Rob Corddry) were friends in their youth, but have since grown apart into different but equally pathetic lives, each defined by a single failing characteristic: Adam just lost his girlfriend, Nick is hen-pecked, and Lou is an obnoxious drunk. When Lou chokes down some carbon-monoxide in the garage, the friends, along with Adam's nephew, Jacob (Clark Duke), go on suicide-watch, and take Lou up into the mountains to visit one of their favorite hang outs from their youth, a ski resort.  Though the resort isn't the same happening place it was in the '80s, the movie's title assures us that we'll get to see the slopes in all their glory, and perhaps provide our protagonists with an opportunity to change the course of their failed lives.

The trailer spoils for us our heroes' initial shock of realizing they are back in time.  But don't despair, plenty of other good humor awaits you, from the disgusting (Nick works at a pet hospital, and a man's dog is experiencing some blockage), to the mysterious (the three friends constantly whisper, "great white buffalo"), to the crude (every word out of Lou's mouth).  Jacob acts as the voice of reason, saying that they shouldn't contaminate the timeline.  When his companions look at him in confused disbelief, Jacob asserts, "I write Stargate fan fiction so I think I know what I'm talking about".  Luckily, no one listens to Jacob (not even Jacob), because what fun is a time travel movie if everyone is obeying the temporal prime directive?  Soon Adam is trying to not break up with his super hot girlfriend, Nick takes the stage to pursue his dream of being in a band, and Lou tries to have sex with everyone he meets (so actually, Lou does seem to preserve the timeline).

The movie starts out with four-star humor, but is eventually weighed down by three-star plot.  Our heroes must face their demons from the past (who cares?), a few predictable mysteries are revealed, and there is an equally predictable race to get back to the hot tub before it's too late (Russian Red Bull is the Hot Tub equivalent of Marty McFly's lightning strike).  Just as in The Wedding Singer, in which Drew Barrymore stands out with a '90s hairdo, Lizzy Caplan makes an appearance as the most attractive woman of the '80s by contemporary standards, so we're not disappointed to see her meet cute with Cusack.  Besides Caplan, and Duke as Jacob, the characters aren't very interesting or likable.  I mostly didn't care what happened to them, just so long as they gave me some good laughs.


  1. I guess I'm just not into comedy these days. I rented this from redbox, and watched roughly 20 minutes of it, and turned it off out of boredom.

  2. Oh, and Cinimark brought the zombies back. I can't stand that my children see that every week.