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Awesome: 18.18%
Worth A Look52.27%
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Total Crap: 6.82%

4 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Hot Rod
[] Buy posters from this movie
by brianorndorf

"So it's good, but it has Will Arnett? How is that possible!"
4 stars

“Hot Rod” isn’t so much a comedy as it is an exclusive clubhouse for those who define their existence by the articulation of their zany. It’s a wild one, but not without its charms. And yes, I do write that with the full knowledge that Will Arnett appears in the film.

Rod (Andy Samberg) is a wannabe stuntman, spending his time hanging with his group of friends (including Bill Hader and Jorma Taccone), executing daredevil spectacles poorly, and trying to win the heart of his neighbor (Isla Fisher). When his stepfather (Ian McShane) needs $50,000 for heart surgery, Rod hopes to cash in on his talents and raise the money by clearing 15 school buses on a motorcycle. Conjuring the spirits of the animal kingdom and harvesting the power of a fake mustache, Rod begins a laborious training period to achieve his goal.

“Hot Rod” is the starring debut for Andy Samberg, an SNL player who always seems to struggle on the show expanding his irreverence past the three-minute mark. The pop culture icon behind the “Lazy Sunday” and “Dick in a Box” digital shorts (sadly, my heart belongs to the laser cats), Samberg is a performer of sizeable energy, but his range of laugh impact is a limited one. He’s born from the Sandler School of the Absurd, stitching together a haphazard series of jokes and non-sequiturs to make “Hot Rod” the new king of the dorm room DVD collection.

Let’s be perfectly clear here: “Hot Rod” bends over backwards to play it cool. It’s a YouTube-like sampler of insider references and elongated slapstick that barely makes for a feature film; however, Samberg and his “Lonely Island” cohorts (including director Akiva Schaffer and co-star Taccone) are impossible to tire, and they land plenty of smiles, even a few bellylaughs, as they pitch the film at a tone only text-messaging zombie teens and inebriated delinquents will find the fullest appreciation for.

What bothers me about Samberg is his insistence on self-conscious comedy. “Hot Rod” is jammed with moments of cringing awareness, which ruins the fun, along with tainting the surprise element any great comedy should hold dear. When Samberg gets silly, his winky attitude trips up several of the film’s better bits, as if slowly curling his tongue around absurdity will goose the giggles further. When relaxed and confident enough to allow the rest of his cast to make some funny, “Hot Rod” soars through a myriad of film references (“Footloose” gets a thorough workout), “Jackass” bodily contortion bruising, and a steaming pile of 1980’s hero cheese, scored to the golden sounds of John Farnham, Europe and other pop delights.

When “Hot Rod” can locate those assured grooves, the film is fantastically entertaining and fondly recalls those early Sandler years with their anything goes mentality. “Hot Rod” touches that greatness sporadically, especially in Rod’s lurid stunts and bitter hostility toward his stepfather. Other times, the film overplays its hand, a prime example found in a positively alien bit where Rod and his brother turn an exchange of “cool beans” into an impromptu hip-hop number. All I could think during that scene were those poor junior high teachers who will have to endure that routine for countless weeks once school resumes.

Andy Samberg is going to need a lot more patience with himself to be a classic comedy icon, but “Hot Rod” is an impressive start. It’s a breezy farce with enough fall-down-and-go-boom tomfoolery to send the kids into fits of laughter, and contains just enough of a hipster edge to entertain the adults. At the very least, the film provides the answer to the eternal question: who would win in a fight, a grilled cheese or a taco?

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 08/03/07 17:05:04
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User Comments

3/02/11 boom chukka even the little things are funny. "man pools are perfect for holding water" 5 stars
11/28/08 Shaun Wallner Hilarious Movie! 4 stars
1/25/08 ES I laughed so hard 4 stars
12/31/07 Indrid Cold Napoleon Dynamite crossed with an Adam Sandler movie. What could possibly go wrong? 2 stars
10/24/07 Courtney (about as bad as tennis elbow) About as contrived and stupid as a film can be. Cool beans?!? Did I miss something? 1 stars
10/24/07 William Goss Very random but often amusing stunt-based slapstick and eccentric humor. Cool beans. 4 stars
10/08/07 Meredith Corpening MMM Maybe what's really retarded is not getting it that MEAN GIRLS IS FICTIION ?!!!?? 2 stars
10/01/07 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Why didn't Denise get wise sooner to old BF being a jackass? She retarded or something? 2 stars
9/26/07 Shelley Splinters Some movies are sheer insanity in a good way. This is just sheer insanity. 1 stars
8/19/07 Lattechino I think the Lonely Island, not Will Ferrel, epitomizes intelligent postmodern comedy. 5 stars
8/18/07 nicole it was hillarious 5 stars
8/16/07 me laughed so hard I couldn't breath 5 stars
8/11/07 ACE This movie had me crying....hilarious!!! 5 stars
8/11/07 Goldie Spacek saying "laugh at you" isn't clever, it's obvious. This movie is clever, not obvious. 5 stars
8/11/07 Sly In typical Lonely Island fashion, this movie delivers. Chester's character cracked me up. 5 stars
8/07/07 Private Self conscious, random and obtuse. Not for me. 2 stars
8/07/07 Trick Hilarious and Phenomenal 4 stars
8/06/07 chief boot knocka best comedy ever!!!! 5 stars
8/03/07 Linda Mann Lots of funny moments 4 stars
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  03-Aug-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Nov-2007



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Akiva Schaffer

Written by
  Pam Brady

  Andy Samberg
  Isla Fisher
  Jorma Taccone
  Bill Heder
  Sissy Spacek
  Ian McShane
  Chris Parnell

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