Monday, November 26, 2007

Repeat Bidness: Hot Rod

Release: 08/03/2007
DVD Release: 11/27/2007
1 hour, 28 minutes
Rated PG-13

Matinee ($$$)

"I can't stop thinking about this movie!"

SNL producer Lorne Michaels decided to go out on a limb and produce a film for one of his stars before they leave the show. Andy Samberg stars as Rod Kimble, stuntman extraordinaire. Rod still lives at home with his mom Marie, played by Sissy Spacek (Blast from the Past), and his stepdad Frank, played by Ian McShane (Scoop). Rod has a strained relationship with his stepdad, continually trying to beat him in combat so he can acclaim the title of real man. When Rod learns that Frank will die without a $50,000 heart transplant, he decides to raise the money by jumping fifteen buses so his stepdad can live…and Rod can finally beat his ass.

This was the most whacked-out, bizarre shit I have seen in recent memory. Samberg is joined by fellow members of the Lonely Island comedy team: Akiva Schaffer who directs; Jorma Taccone who plays Kevin; and Chester Tam who you will not soon forget. Much like an episode of SNL, the film sways from really funny to random and weak.

Also like SNL, “Hot Rod” winds up being extremely hilarious in its final half hour, though its early shortcomings may alienate the audience. The early moments of “Hot Rod” come off like a mean-spirited “Napoleon Dynamite.” Luckily, it sheds this vibe as the story progresses, coming into its own to rest its laurels alongside other out-there comedies like “Dude, Where’s my car?” and “Pootie Tang.”

"Hot Rod” also features a side romance between Rod and his neighbor Denise, played by Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), which is laughably weak. The movie’s continuity is sloppy, and most of the acting is exceptionally poor and over-the-top. Will Arnett (Blades of Glory) comes off particularly bad. The ladies, Sissy Spacek and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), are easily the most believable performers, which in itself is sad. Despite all these low marks, “Hot Rod” soars like the spirit totem eagle to the top. The film’s shortcomings pale in comparison to the combination of boyish good intentions and sheer randomness “Hot Rod” embraces.

Dirty Undies
Andy Samberg is one ugly looking dude! At least he’s funny as hell and at least Isla Fisher is a cutie. If that doesn’t do it for you, there’s always some very, very excessive pelvic thrusting that may suit your sexual funny bone. The stunts are friggin’ brutal! There is very little that Rod won’t do to spare his stepdad from death. And watching the foul-mouthed Frank slap Rod senseless is a joy in and of itself.

The Money Shot
Oh, did I mention that also like SNL, “Hot Rod” features several musical interludes? While not reaching the caliber of guest performers on the show, the cast’s interpretive sequences are yet one more reason that this film should not be missed, especially if you’re a fan of the band Europe. Granted, I’d steer clear if odd and funny aren’t your thing, but if you go, you may see me there a third time.

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