Goofball comedy has never been goofier in this, an American comedy about a man-child wannabe stuntman. It’s not always funny and the offbeat strokes sometimes suffer from being less clever than I imagine the Lonely Island trio think they are, but it’s silly and mad enough to warrant a watch.
Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) has always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and be an impressive stuntman, alas he owns a chugging moped and can’t even jump one vehicle. So when his step-dad Frank (Ian McShane) suffers a heart problem, Rod tries proving himself by jumping 15 buses to earn enough money for Frank’s surgery. It’s up to him, his buffoonish team and the girl of Rod’s dreams; Denise (Isla Fisher) to make the stunt successful.
Firstly I commend the chemistry of the cast, the stupidity created by Samberg, Bill Hader, Jorma Taccone and Danny McBride is crackling. They’re like a dumb boy band playing school tricks aiming to be cool but utterly utterly failing. It’s generally them as morons and the running trend of moronic humour that keeps this film amusing enough to pay attention.
When the idiot comedy isn’t there or not quite hitting the mark, then the movie feels poor and messy as it tries hurling things into one big jumble. People may find it hilarious but an example of this messiness is as Rod and his half brother Kevin repeat the phrase ‘cool beans’ which transitions into an odd 30-40 second remix of them saying those two words. I love absurd ideas in comedy but at times, more often than not, ‘Hot Rod’ goes down that slippery road and can’t come back.
Akiva Schaffer of Lonely Island fame, directs this comedy certainly knowing how to capture the wilder side of the action. He can also make sure that Samberg plays up to the camera as the dreamer with a brain as small as his stunt talents. The set up and building to the final crazy stunt is well done and does provide a necessary amount of tension even if you can guarantee the result of Rod’s efforts. What I loved the most was the playing around with film, from the Footloose spoof that ends up crashing down a hill to the mention of a convenient monetary amount for the stunt.
I admit openly that I thoroughly enjoyed the soundtrack for this feature. It pounds with a energetic 80’s beat from Cutting Crew to Europe. It actually works having so many songs in the film, giving it an extra spin of goofiness as Rod lives a life so right for a 1980’s movie.
Andy Samberg is a good shout for Rod, as he knows how to play that shouty awkward role well. He can be arrogant yet nervous with ease and stupidity is second nature to him so Rod is perfect thanks to his performance. Bill Hader brings in a lisp and a childish manner as friend to Rod, the skating rink and acid story are his finest moments. Isla Fisher is a sweet addition, thankfully giving a fresher less idiotic chunk to the group as she plays the hopeful and kind love interest with positivity. Ian McShane is great when simply smiling just to rile up the main character. Also an odd kudos goes to Chester Tam as Richardson who steals the show for his disregard for posters and his love for pelvic thrusts.
It’s very easy to see why this film didn’t fare well on release but on the other hand it is clear to see why this is a movie that has cult status and people love. It’s not well written and it’s too silly but there’s a skit-like comedy that works in places which is just fine.