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"Hot Rod"

Directed by Akiva Schaffer.
Written by Pam Brady.
Starring Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Isla Fisher and Ian McShane.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  7/30/07


When I got an e-mail for a free showing for "Hot Rod", I jumped on it; I didn't really want to see "Hot Rod", but I definitely didn't want to pay for it, so this was right in my wheelhouse.  My friends Ross and "The Professional", our man Gordon, made it a threesome and we checked this one out.

Andy Samberg stars as Rod, the son of a dead stuntman legend, and in trying to continue his father's extensive legacy Rod has proven to be a bit of a loser.  His stunts absolutely suck--thanks in part to a "crew" of completely untrained professionals that include a ramp guy who can't build ramps (Danny R. McBride), a mechanic who can't build a bike (Bill Hader, who also appears in "Superbad"), and a crew chief/foster brother (Jorma Taccone) who can't do anything except film Rod's horrible stunts.  Rod lives at home and can't even punch his foster dad (Ian McShane) in their daily basement fistfights; his luck with the ladies can best be described as "non-existent."  But, when his foster dad gets sick to the point of needing an operation, it's up to Rod to gather the money for an operation that could save his life...and, he'll perform as many stunts as he can to raise money for his foster dad's cause.

To sum up the comedy in "Hot Rod": fucking crazy random.  And I mean, random!  Maybe it was the march-turned-rally-turned-song-and-dance-routine-turned-riot; maybe it was the random Asian-groupie-crotch-thrusting; maybe it was the ramp guy's decision to beat the living hell out of an unsuspecting victim of a streetboard accident.  Or maybe it was the newswoman who started her report by talking about a dog that came home and ordered a pizza.  Whatever the case may be, "Hot Rod" gets both good and bad mileage from comedy that only really made sense to the writer/director team on this movie.  As such, there are stretches where jokes fall completely flat.

And, there are times--at least five--where I almost couldn't breathe because I was laughing so hard.

It is this inconsistency that brings the film's overall grade down; kind of like other great "moments" comedies ("Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" comes to mind), you should still see "Hot Rod" because some of these extended bits are so fantastic.  Isla Fisher provides decent eye candy; Chris Parnell (Samberg's partner in the now-classic "Lazy Sunday" SNL bit) appears as the owner of an AM radio station and shows off maybe the funniest tattoo in film history; the sham stunts that Rod gets into really are pretty funny.  Not so funny was Will Arnett, oh-for-two this year in comedies after he blew it in "Blades of Glory" and then again in this film; maybe it's the writing, or maybe it's Arnett, or maybe it's both, but he has just been bad so far this year in the two movies I have seen featuring him.

You'll be very happy you followed my advice if you see this movie on a Sunday afternoon with some friends; good enough, but better if you see it on the cheap.  For good comedy, you've got other options right now, since "Knocked Up", "Superbad" and "The Simpsons Movie" are all more consistent than "Hot Rod"...but, it will still be fun to see what Samberg & Co. will do next.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09