Work Environment.

Alyssa Rosenberg’s pop culture blogging is invaluable, but I think she gets it a little wrong when she says, about Hot Tub Time Machine, that “it is inexplicable and distressing to me that John Cusack is involved with this”. Here’s the trailer: Cusack’s one of my favorite actors, though I’ll admit that his track record, while impressive, is hardly spotless. But through his whole career he’s been an actor whose moved between genres with remarkable fluidity. He’s best known for his romantic comedies (Say Anything, Serendipity) but he’s also been in action films (Con Air), action-comedies (Grosse Pointe Blank), horror films (Identity, 1408), historical films (Max, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), mind-benders (Being John Malkovich), and, yes, goofy comedies with unlikely plots (Better Off Dead). So I think his recent roles in things like Hot Tub Time Machine and 2012, distressing as they might be to some, are in keeping with his career choices so far. One thing we never consider about actors is that they have to be on set for awhile - sometimes months - working closely with the same four or five people. When it comes to making our own career choices, we often take things like work environment into consideration, but for some reason we expect actors to maintain their artistic integrity on every single gig they take. It’s likely that Cusack just figured it’d be more fun to hang out with Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry (or Jack Black or Jeremy Piven) than, say, Billy Bob Thornton or Cate Blanchett. After all, it’s not like Cusack hasn’t also been turning out great performances - he won a lot of critical acclaim for 2007’s Grace is Gone, in which he played a grieving husband whose wife dies in Iraq. Maybe the guy just wanted a break. Also, while I agree that the film has a lot of capacity to be terrible, the red band trailer for it is actually really, really funny.