Taking a Hot Tub Time Machine to Red Lobster

The Dinner: The "Chef's Signature Lobster and Shrimp Pasta" with a tall raspberry margarita at Red Lobster (4231 196th St. SW., Lynnwood).

The Movie: Hot Tub Time Machine at Alderwood 16 (18733 33rd Ave. W., Lynnwood).

The Screenplate: When setting out to watch a movie about transporting to the '80s, why not try to complete the experience? Some of the decade's most memorable experiences came from our beloved fast food restaurants. McDonald's had mascot "Mac Tonight" and the McDLT. Dominos went the claymation route with The Noid. Burger King boasted the "Best Food for Fast Times," and Wendy's asked, "Where's the beef?" But the speedeating chains have evolved, leaving the '80s long behind. Luckily, the faux-wood paneling of Red Lobster proves that not everyone has.

I immediately noted that stickers plastered near the front advertised its number one status in the seafood category according to Zagat. Guessing that would piss off a few people (Seastar, Palisade... Skippers?), I had to check out the claims--and for the record, while the guide does acknowledge Red Lobster's existence, any sort of "best of" rating bestowed upon the restaurant is nonexistent.

Advertised as "Maine lobster, tender shrimp, fresh asparagus and tomatoes in a white wine and lobster butter sauce over linguini," the Chef's Signature selection appeared to be the obvious choice. Boy, was I wrong. There was lobster and shrimp, and plenty of it--but that's where the pleasantries ended.

Whenever the waitress dropped by to check in, I expected to hear, "Need some more garlic salt? Don't worry, it's already been taken care of for you." The plate was doused in enough butter to sate a small elephant, and I could barely stomach half the serving, but salvation came from the palate-cleansing properties of a blended raspberry margarita (which I was able to share with my girlfriend and therefore save face in front of the surrounding elderly couples).

But the evening was not lost. With pockets full of Tart 'n' Tinys, Pop Rocks, Reese's Pieces, Big League Chew and a host of other candy that emerged in the night's decade of choice, Alderwood Mall's Cineplex was the next target. And the Steve Pink-directed time-travel comedy somehow managed to far exceed expectations.

Starring John Cusack, Clark Duke, Rob Corddry, and featuring a standout performance from Craig Robinson, the comedic talent present onscreen likely would have been enough to save the most mediocre of scripts. Thankfully, this was not the situation, and laughs abound amid not-so-subtle references to '80s mainstays like Sixteen Candles, Better Off Dead, Revenge of the Nerds and Back to the Future. Bored (or crushed) by disappointing adult lives, the forenamed main characters plan to relive their glorious heydays with a trip to the ski resort of their youth, the sex-and-alcohol-drenched world of "Winterfest '86."

Despite the "highbrow" bodily-function humor and predictable plotline, one-liners are in no shortage and even references to Wild Hogs and The Black Eyed Peas manage to be hysterical. It's a goofy comedy for sure, but without doubt a film worth spending a little time with.

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