Hot Rod (2007)
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Review Date: August 03, 2007
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Writer: Pam Brady
Producers: Lorne Michaels, John Goldwyn
Andy Samberg as Rod
Jorma Taccone as Kevin
Bill Hader as Dave
A loveable loser who thinks he’s a great stuntman convinces himself and his friends and family that he can raise enough money in order to help his stepdad receive a heart transplant. In reality, the kid sucks at stunts, but he’s got the heart of a tiger (the eye belongs to Rocky Balboa) and his dick hard on this girl in his crew. Lots of messed up stunts, goofy sequences and hit-and-miss humor ensues.
I think that anyone going into this film expecting an Apatow, Ferrell or Sandler level of comedy-making will be disappointed since the laughs here aren’t as tight, broad or as consistent as those veteran comedians, but the trio known as “The Lonely Island” (made up of star Andy Samberg, director Akiva Schaffer and co-star Jorma Taccone) are on the right track with their first feature film, even if it doesn’t entirely deliver. The boys are best known for their hilarious “digital shorts” on “Saturday Night Live” (and on the Internet, with many of their shorts being downloaded by dillions on the Web), and with this picture, they’re essentially moving their type of goofy humor to the big screen, and hoping to make a mark of their own. I was smiling throughout most of this movie, chuckling here and there and even laughing out loud a couple of times, but I have to say that as a big fan of Samberg and the crew’s digital shorts, I was expecting it to be a lot funnier and inspired (although a couple of bits are definitely memorable). The film plays more like a “cute movie” that doesn’t really take off at any point, but certainly offers nice enough chemistry between Samberg and his badass pop, played by the great Ian McShane, as well as between Samberg and the always adorable, Isla Fisher. I might actually be in love with Fisher (still deciding on this), but I can watch this cutie-pie on the big screen all day long. Damn you, lucky Borat! The character played by the great Will Arnett was also over-the-top humorous, but none of the other secondary characters really did much for me, which was probably why the film never really went to “that other level”.

Samberg’s friends were nerdy to the nth degree, but not all that funny, although Hader’s “acid trip” sequence was a definite keeper. Samberg’s co-host on the extremely popular “Lazy Sunday” digital short, Chris Parnell, also showed up in a small role, but his shtick wasn’t all that humorous either. Samberg, on the other hand, is a perfect ham and worked very well as the affable goof who has a perfectly antagonistic relationship with his stepdad. The “tender moments” were also sprinkled nicely around the film, reminiscent of Sandler’s classics, and some sweet tunes also added to the film’s charm. The sequence in which many of the townspeople support Samberg by walking behind him in the streets was the tits, as were many of his stunts-gone-wrong – although I have to say that if you don’t like Samberg or his goofball antics, this movie is definitely not for you! It would be like going to see NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and not really “getting” the lead character, since this film also plays to a certain audience (many of the kids in our crowd were cracking up). For example, it features a scene in which a taco (the Mexican sandwich) challenges a grilled cheese sandwich to a fight. Now that, my friends, will either crack you up or have you attempting to get your money back. It cracked me up. Go taco!! The humor is also somewhat contagious as one “out of the blue” running gag features an Asian guy who dances to house music every now and again. At first, I didn’t think this was funny at all, but after a few more appearances, it actually became quite humorous to me. But you can see what I mean by this not being for everyone.

The “cool beans” rap-lib was also quite funny, and I can see how the film might become a cult classic in some circles (especially in those circles in which a joint is being passed around), but for me, it was a good time flick, one that didn’t really blow me away, but featured a sweet loser chasing a cutie-pie chick with a number of laughs and a quick pace. I think the screenplay could have used a few more rewrites for more consistent humor, but as the debut feature for these crazy kids, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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