It’s been looking like 1980s hedonism all over again this month with two time travel movies showing the time traveler protagonists (or perhaps antagonists) enriching themselves by altering the past and future. In Project Almanac, we saw the ultimate fantasy of teenagers using their makeshift time machine to win the lottery and to escape three months into the past to a Lollapalooza concert. Their only drawback was being unable to travel farther to the past so they could essentially rule the world.
In the world of satire, it’s a different story. If you want to call Hot Tub Time Machine 2 legitimate satire, the idea of lead character Nick Webber and company managing to become rich and successful by altering the past also treads on black comedy. It even paints a picture that the 2010s are a reversal from mocking rich and powerful people in movies since the 1990s.
Yes, deep down, the 1980s may have never left us and we secretly want to experience power vicariously in movies.
No matter if that’s prescience about where we’re going in movies, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 also reaches back to the past to reflect the future. What this means is their obvious reflection on Back to the Future Part II, which is now the most discussed and analyzed sci-fi film of all time lately. We’d probably still be discussing the film on social media, even if we hadn’t been living in the film’s time frame of 2015. Regardless, the film’s influence on sci-fi and time travel movies in general is just now being felt.
Back to the Future Part II’s mind-bending approach to time paradoxes was ahead of its time back in 1989, and it dogged the film then by those expecting something lighthearted. Now we see how much evolution changes things, because the paradoxes used in the film then are finally being replicated everywhere now. Project Almanac alone plays up the “dual existence in the past” theory. Now Hot Tub Time Machine 2 takes its own nod by trying to guess 10 years into the future with a huge tongue in cheek.
As much as moviegoers finally comprehend and love complex time travel theories now, we all know the biggest deal about Back to the Future Part II was how accurate they were about technology in 2015. The Guardian did a piece at the start of this year about the hits and misses on the film’s tech predictions. Those who hadn’t seen the film in a long time ended up being dazzled at how much the film got right compared to not. There was enough accuracy to think there was more than a little psychic foresight going on.
We see everything from flat-screen TV’s to VR eyewear in the film, making the households of that imagined future looking eerily similar to households this year. This isn’t to say it’s the first film to eerily predict the future. Over the last several decades, films like The China Syndrome to Minority Report predicted things happening in America’s near or far future that either became completely true or half true.
With that frame of mind, movies could be a guiding light toward predicting the future than we’ve ever fully comprehended. Whether something mysterious at work, or it’s just plain ironical coincidence, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is the latest to brazenly take this on. And their approach to the future of pop culture might have more elements of truth than we’re willing to admit.
Predicting the Future of the Entertainment Industry
The biggest wave Hot Tub Time Machine 2 created this month was the prediction that comedienne Jessica Williams would take over The Daily Show by the year 2025. It set off some moderate buzz on places like Twitter where some carried the idea this should happen in reality rather than be satire. At the same time, little was said that the film also shows Christian Slater evolved into a game show host, providing much larger implications. This was only for starters in what the film shows as the future of television.
What makes these predictions for the next decade not quite so eerie is that movies have tools now to make more accurate predictions. Thanks to the era of big data and more freely available time tables of where we’re heading technologically, any predictions about the future in a movie may end up being far too real rather than scoff-worthy. The same can be said about predicting the future of show business based on the trajectory of doing anything for ratings in a network TV universe constantly competing with cable.
Will Hot Tub Time Machine 2 become the most analyzed sci-fi comedy film in a decade if its predictions of pop culture come true? If so, it’s perhaps a film that’s destined to pull a hefty profit for MGM in just 10 years as a favorite Blu-ray (or perhaps 5K Blu-ray) rental. Profits may resemble Back to the Future Part II, a film that’s possibly making more money in sales and rentals now due to its prescience than it did 26 years ago.