*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was written by Winston.
The film opens in modern-day Los Angeles, where Nick (Craig Robinson) works at a pretentious, boutique-y dog-care center. He ignores a call from Lou (Rob Corddry) and is called to the front desk where a rich douchebag (Lt. Dangle from Reno 911) has brought his dog, limping from what is obviously something stuck up its rear. As Nick digs in, the douchebag recognizes him as the lead singer from a now-defunct local band, obviously striking a nerve. Nick asks the d-bag if he drives a BMW, and the d-bag asks how Nick can tell. Nick tosses him a set of car keys covered in dog poop.
The film then jumps to later that night, when Lou comes tearing into his neighborhood blasting a hair-metal track in his car. He drives into his garage, ramming the wall with his car, and takes out a flask to take another drink. He revs his engine to the beat of the song and carbon monoxide slowly fills the garage…
Cut to Adam (John Cusack), who comes home to a half-empty house with red stickers on all the appliances. He plays a message from the answering machine; it’s his now ex-girlfriend who has moved out and taken everything without a red sticker. Adam grabs the one thing left in the fridgea beerand walks into the living room, where his ex took the TV (even though it had a sticker) and left a mass of wires hanging out of the wall. Adam goes to the basement, where his nephew Jacob (Clark Duke, the chubby kid), a video-game geek, is playing an incarcerated, tattooed version of himself in the game Second Life. Adam makes fun of him a little bit, and we get the sense that Jacob’s mother (Adam’s sister) is far from the most responsible parent in the world. Adam grabs a spare TV from the basement and is watching it when he gets a call from Nick.
Adam meets Nick and his wife Courtney at the hospital. A doctor talks to Adam and Nick, implying that Lou tried to commit suicide, and asks whether Lou has any family to watch him for the next few days. Since, as Adam explains, all of Lou’s family hates him, the doctor tells Adam and Nick that they are responsible for taking care of him.
While visiting Lou in his hospital room, Adam and Nick whisper to themselves about why they think Lou might’ve wanted to kill himself. We learn that Lou is divorced, without kids, and that he is an alcoholic and generally a piece of shit. Lou hears them and throws a pillow at them, but the three obviously have a rapport and we get the sense that they were once very close friends, but that Adam and Nick eventually became responsible adults while Lou never really grew up. Adam and Nick tell Lou that they are taking him to Kodiak Valley in the morning. Lou wants to go as soon as possible and begins pulling out his catheter, which eventually sprays everyone with urine.
In the morning, Adam picks Lou up from his house. Lou is dismayed to see Jacob, who he despises, but is generally psyched to go to Kodiak Valley, a ski resort where the three friends had some of their most memorable weekends. Adam talks about breaking up with his first girlfriend there, and calls her his first love. Nick whispers, “Great white buffalo,” and the three all whisper it again, to Jacob’s confusion (pretty funny). Jacob asks them to explain “great white buffalo” and the three just whisper it again.
When they reach Kodiak Valley, the friends are all disappointed to see that many things have closed down. The whole town has hit hard times, and even the lodge they check into is overrun with stray cats. Nick checks in, and Lou finds out that Nick has taken his wife’s last name in addition to his own (Nick Webber-Agneu). Lou makes fun of him and we can see that this affects Nick the same way that the douchebag in the first scene bothered him.
The four are taken to their room by the bellhop (Crispin Glover), who only has one arm. The luggage keeps falling off the cart that the bellhop uses, but when Jacob tries to put it back on, the bellhop screams that he doesn’t need any help. When they reach the room, the bellhop chucks the luggage as hard as he can across the room and sticks his hand out for tip. Lou tells Nick to pay him as he walks into the bedroom and takes out a drawer, where he carved “Adam sux cox n dix” over twenty years ago. They go outside to check out the hot tub, but all that’s in it is a dead (and decaying) raccoon. Lou calls the desk to get somebody to fix and clean it.
Later that night, the four are playing quarters. Bored, Lou tries to hire a hooker but no one else is willing to partake. Eventually, he storms out of the room and Adam and Nick wonder if they made a mistake returning to Kodiak Valley, and if they have just grown too far apart. They’re interrupted by the sound of the hot tub bubbling up. As they get in, the film cuts to a montage of the four getting drunk in the hot tub, with random shots of a guy in a bear costume and naked women spliced in. One shot is of an illegal Russian energy drink Lou brought spilling onto the hot tub console (important later). The bottles pile up outside the hot tub and eventually the four pass out.
In the morning, Adam wakes up to a squirrel eating a nut. Lou also wakes up and blasts the squirrel off with a torrent of vomit. Eventually, everyone gets out of the hot tub and they all decide to go skiing.
Everyone feels great on the slopes and they start causing havoc, running into people and spraying them with snow. Lou has a run-in with a ski-patrol ranger, Blaine, whom he vaguely recognizes but can’t place. They all wonder why everyone is dressed in retro, and go into a lodge where all the TVs are playing programs from the past. Nick begins to freak out when he sees someone with a Jheri curl and asks a girl if Michael Jackson is white or black. When she says black, he screams and runs back to the room.
The others a bit freaked out at this point too and they realize that they have gone into the past. Lou goes to pee and looks at his reflection. Distracted, he turns and pees all over the floor, yelling for the others to come into the restroom. Jacob tells him that no one cares how big his poop is, but Lou keeps calling and eventually the others enter. Lou, Nick, and Adam all stare at younger images of themselves Lou has long, scraggly hair, Nick has a ridiculously high flattop and Adam is the spitting image of a young John Cusack. Jacob is unchanged, but his reflection flickers like a hologram (throughout the film, Jacob occasionally flickers from this point forward).
By this point, all four are suitably shaken. Someone knocks on the door and Lou grabs a chair, but it’s only the bellhop, who has both arms and is noticeably cheerier, calling the four “gentlemen” and giving them their luggage. Really, the only thing of note is a suitcase decorated with marijuana stickers. Inside are mushrooms, cocaine, alcohol, and, of course, weed. After the bellhop leaves, the four receive another visitor Chevy Chase, who plays the hot tub repairman. He says some cryptic words, to the effect of, “Don’t change any of the circuitry, or the whole hot tub will collapse” basically, don’t change anything in the past, or the future may be a whole lot different when you return. He then says that the hot tub should be fixed by dawn. The four hear something outside and run to look at the hot tub, but when they turn around, the repairman is gone.
They come to a consensus that they must do everything that they did twenty years ago to preserve the future. This means: Lou needs to get beaten up by Blaine and all of his friends, Nick needs to have sex with a groupie and have a terrible performance with his band, and Adam needs to break up with his first girlfriend, who stabbed him in the face by his right eye when he gave her the news. Lou is understandably the most apprehensive about this, but after much pleading from Jacob, finally agrees. The three go down to the lobby where they run into Adam’s sister Kelly. Jacob is speechless, even more so when Kelly turns out to be a ditzy party girl who tells the four that she is planning on going to the ski patrol building and giving a ski patrol ranger oral sex. We also find out here that the band Poison is visiting Kodiak Valley and will be playing a show at night.
Lou sets out with Jacob, and they run into Blaine, who punches Lou a few times in the face and steals his bag. Lou tells Jacob that in the past, he challenged Blaine to a rematch at midnight with his friends, but that in the past, Adam and Nick never showed (hence, he got jumped by Blaine and all of his friends). Jacob urges him to make the challenge and Lou, very much against his will, does. He gets beat up some more and is nursing his wounds with Jacob when a beautiful girl asks him what happened. Lou tells her he got hit by a truck while saving a baby deer and she falls for it, telling him to come back to her place with Jacob so she can “take care of him.” Lou follows her against Jacob’s protests, and at her place she takes her shirt off and tells him that she only has sex with two men at a time. Lou has no problem with this and gets naked, while Jacob insists on sticking to the past and storms out, forcing Lou to follow.
Nick is setting up with his band when he sees Tara, the groupie, and the film cuts to a bathroom, where the two are having sex in the tub. Nick is crying the entire time because he doesn’t want to cheat on his wife (even though the others tell him repeatedly that he isn’t really cheating because he isn’t married in the past), and finally Tara asks him why he is crying. Nick tearfully tells her that he is married, and that he found an email that proves his wife cheated on him in the past. She asks him what an email is and Nick tells her that isn’t the point. Eventually, he also leaves.
Adam goes to visit his girlfriend, Jennie, who also visited the three in their room. He is stunned by how beautiful she was, and wonders why he ever broke up with her. This, coupled with the fact that he got stabbed the last time he broke up with her, prevents him from breaking up with her. They go to the Poison show, where Adam leaves Jennie to go to the bar. He meets April, a music journalist following the band, and the two click. Adam, however, needs to stick to the script where he never met April, and tells her that the meeting never happened. He goes off to meet Jennie again, but the two separate and the four guys eventually meet up back at the lodge.
Lou, Nick, and Jacob are furious at Adam, because he is the only one who has not followed through, more or less, with the plan. They decide that if he is changing the past, that they also will change their fates. Lou plans on bringing Nick to the fight and pummeling Blaine, Nick decides that he will put on an awesome performance with his band and follow his music career instead of getting married and becoming emasculated, and Adam decides he will stay with Jennie. Jacob is the only one still insistent that they stick to the script; understandably, because he is at risk of never being born (this being the night that Jacob was conceived).
There are a couple of funny running subplots here. First, the bellhop suffers a number of very close calls with his arm, one while carving ice sculptures with a chainsaw and a few with a broken elevator. Lou catches all of these, and is always disappointed when the bellhop keeps his arm. Second, Lou and Nick go to the bar, where they pile up a bunch of winnings while watching a Broncos game on TV. Eventually, a rich guy with a hot wife makes one final bet with Lou if Elway throws a touchdown with 37 seconds left, the hot wife has to give Lou a blowjob. If he doesn’t, Lou loses all of his winnings and has to give Nick a blowjob. To Nick’s dismay, Lou takes those odds, and promptly loses when the barf-covered squirrel runs onto the field and distracts the receiver. Nick passes out in the bathroom, where Lou is about to give him the blowjob at gunpoint, and Lou and the rich guy eventually reconcile when Lou gives him a bunch of stock tips for the future. Finally, and most importantly, Blaine looks into the bag he took from Lou and finds a bunch of gear (iPhone, Oakley glasses), and the Russian soda mentioned earlier in the film as an illegal energy drink. This convinces him that Lou and his friends are Russian spies, and that he needs to do his duty by stopping them.
Meanwhile, Adam and Jennie go to a bar, where Jennie slips him a note essentially breaking up with him. Adam protests that this wasn’t how it was supposed to go, and when Jennie tells him, “It’s not you, it’s me” the same line that got Adam stabbed in the past Adam snaps and tells her she gets pregnant by some loser and eventually has to join Weight Watchers. Jennie stabs him anyway and storms off. Adam goes back to his room feeling depressed and gets high on weed, mushrooms, and cocaine, and is caught by Jacob writing breakup poetry. Adam wanders off in a haze, despite Jacob’s protests, and passes the bellhop, who he tells, “You can put that arm in a fucking vault; it’s still coming off.” He lies on the snow, where April finds him and convinces him to come with her. They break into a house and drink wine and smoke cigars by candlelight, and eventually Adam tells her about the time travel. She believes him, in a kind of starry-eyed way and tells him not to live life by plans, and to do what feels right. He pulls her closer and kisses her, but the two have to bolt when the homeowners enter unexpectedly.
Nick goes to play his show, but promises Lou to back him up at midnight. He plays “Jesse’s Girl” and “Let’s Get It Started” by the Black Eyed Peas, and the crowd loves him but he forgets about Lou. Meanwhile, Jacob finds the repairman, who tells him that the key to the time travel is the Russian energy drink, which contains an important chemical. Jacob finds Adam, who sets out to find Lou. They run into Nick, who remembers too late that it is past midnight.
The three find Lou on the roof of the lodge, drunk on scotch. Adam and Lou have an emotional argument, with Lou saying that friends should stick together and that Adam and Nick stopped spending time with him long before the time travel, and Adam saying that Lou only drags down others and that he needed to grow up. Lou takes a step and slips on the roof, and the four all grab a hold of each other. Nick is the anchor, but he begins to slip when he is grabbed suddenly by the bellhop. Lou starts to think that this is how the bellhop loses his arm and gets excited when… somehow he pulls them all up. They all set out to the ski patrol building to find Blaine and the Russian drink.
The four manage to sneak into the building, with Adam and Nick finding Blaine’s room and Lou wandering off by himself. Nick manages to sneak a phone into the bathroom and calls his 9 year-old wife, screaming at her graphically about how he knows she cheated on him. Lou runs into Kelly, and they end up in bed. Jacob wanders in and furiously attacks Lou, but when Lou pulls out (ahem) Jacob disappears. Adam and Nick realize that Lou is Jacob’s father and are forced to let Lou finish. Lou gets his revenge on Adam, yelling vividly what he is doing to Adam’s sister, and when Lou is done Jacob reappears, utterly disgusted.
The five (with Kelly) run downstairs where Blaine confronts them. Lou takes matters into his own hands and, after some early setbacks, pummels Blaine. Nick pretends to yell in Russian and grabs the energy drink, holding it like a bomb, and the five run out, where the bellhop is waiting to take them back to the lodge. Just when Lou thinks he will never get to see the bellhop lose his arm, a truck drives by as the bellhop sticks his arm out and takes it off. The four ditch Kelly and run back to the hot tub, where they pour on the energy drink and create a kind of vortex. Nick and Jacob jump in, but Lou tells Adam he plans on staying in the past, and that he really did try to kill himself at the beginning of the film. Adam tells him that he will stay too, and that he won’t leave his friend behind, but when the two step in to hug, Lou shoves him into the vortex. The three fall through time and wind up back in the present!
Jacob, Nick, and Adam find a DVD player in the lodge and play it. It’s Lou, on a yacht, with a full head of hair. He has exploited his knowledge of the future and become fabulously rich, and also redirected the lives of his friends. Someone knocks on the door and it’s the bellhop, who has both arms! It turns out the ski patrol arrived just in time to put his arm on ice and have it reattached. He gives the trio copies of maps to their new homes Lou is now married to April, and has a beautiful home. Nick is a music mogul, and his wife was so traumatized by the phone call that she never cheated on him. His name is also now just Nick Webber (unhyphenated). And finally, Jacob goes home to his family Lou, his father and the inventor of “Lou-gle” and the lead singer of “Motley Lue,” and Kelly, his mother. The movie ends with all of them having dinner, reunited in the present.