[UPDATE: Hot Tub Time Machine out on DVD 6/29/10, Unrated.]
So, exactly where is the Kodiak Valley ski resort, in the movie, “Hot Tub Time Machine”? And how can you get there? The smart-ass answer is that it is in 1986 and to get there, you need a can of “Chernobly” energy drink to short out your hot tub.
Here is some information on where the movie was really filmed, how you can get there (or to the other locations in the movie), and perhaps create your own “Hot Tub Time Machine” getaway. B.Y.O.C.*
1. Where is Kodiak Valley ski resort? It doesn’t exist – except that it does, in the form of Fernie Alpine Resort, in the Canadian Rockies. Tourism Fernie says the resort gets the highest annual snowfall in Canada. “We got 29 feet this year,” said a tourism official. Crap – Canada should have held the Olympics there. The nearest “big” city is Cranbrook, which is about an hour away. Calgary is 200 miles north.
2. Is Fernie as seedy, and down on its luck as the fictional resort? No, and yes. The area is cute and quaint, in a throwback sort of way, and it didn’t take much to transform it into a ski resort circa 1986. Hundreds of locals made perfect extras – many using existing wardrobe items. Many local hairstyles didn’t even need touch-ups!
3. The resort was originally known as “Fernie Snow Valley”; the owner, who acquired it in 1997, went bankrupt, however. Fernie is bouncing back under the ownership of the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies group, which also includes resorts at Kimberley, Nakiska, Mont Saint-Anne and Stoneham. (RCR is owned by billionaire N. Murray Edwards, part owner of the Calgary Flames hockey team.)
4. Filming in Fernie took place in April and May 2009, after the resort had closed for the ski season. The plaza area, where much of the movie takes place, was given a makeover. The chain saw ice sculpture scene was filmed there. The clock tower was built by the movie crew. The bar, restaurant and party scenes were filmed at the resort’s day lodge or “The Brickhouse” – a real restaurant in town. The “Silver Peaks Lodge” doesn’t exist; it was just a façade (literally); it, like the clock tower, was completely dismantled after filming. Hot tub scenes were filmed on a set off-site. Fernie locals, who asked in vain that the clock tower be left standing, have added their own strings of lighting, to keep the plaza area looking at least something like the movie set.
5. Well, can you still find your own hot tub time machine in Fernie? Yes! “There are tons of options for creating your own hot tub memories in Fernie,” said Sarah Windsor, a spokeswoman for the resort. No self-respecting Fernie lodging establishment seems to be without one: The Fernie Grand Hotel, Snow Valley Motel, Barbara Lynn’s Country Inn, Park Place Lodge, Snow Creek Lodge, Timberline Lodge, Best Western Fernie Motor Lodge, the Travelodge Three Sisters and the Lodge at Fernie. The Fernie Stanford Resort has an indoor water slide. The cast and crew stayed mostly at the Lizard Creek Lodge (and filmed in the lobby); it boasts a 20-person hot tub. But the champ is – ta-da! – the Super 8, which advertises a 25-person “spa tub”. How intimate!
6. Some wag has created a line of clothing and souvenirs emblazoned with a fake “Silver Peaks Lodge Hot Tub Maintenance” logo.
7. Exterior scenes? Mostly shot in Fernie, but as the snow was rapidly melting, the crew moved 500 miles west to Mount Seymour ski resort above Vancouver, British Columbia. Many of the skiing scenes were filmed on runs near the Mystery Peaks lift. This ski area has had a rough go. It’s main lift, the Ridge Chair, was destroyed in a 1998 wind storm; its remains have been left to rot. And its lodge, or cabin, burned down in 2005.
8. What does “Hot Tub Time Machine” have in common with 1939’s “Gone With the Wind”? Almost nothing, I assure you, but each crew did go to Big Bear in the mountains east of Los Angeles for some additional location shooting.
Big Bear was not given its due in the credit roll. Other cinematic classics that did at least some filming in Big Bear were “Birth of a Nation” (1915), “High Sierra” (1941), “Now, Voyager” (1942, “The Magnificent Ambersons” (1942), and – well, you get the idea: “Hot Tub Time Machine” has nothing else in common with any of those either.
9. Is “Hot Tub Time Machine” the weirdest movie John Cusack has ever been in? Hardly. Have you forgotten about “Grosse Point Blank”? “Pushing Tin”? “Being John Malkovich”? A John Cusack Weird-Out Film Festival would not lack for entries. The other stars: Recognize Craig Robinson (“Nick”) as “Darryl” from “The Office”? Rob Corddry (“Lou”)? Got his start on the original “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” What about Collette Wolfe (“Kelly”)? Sure you’ve seen her someplace before? Most likely in your dreams.
10. Think this movie was hysterically weird? Wait until the DVD comes out, promises director Steve Pink. What will the legacy of “Hot Tub Time Machine” be? It’s early, but first-time screenwriter John Heald says the film will prove to be no less than “the greatest gift anyone’s ever given the world. It ranks up there with the Statue of Liberty, and free internet porn.” Amen.
April 12, 2010
* “Bring Your Own Chernobly”