Directed by Akiva Schaffer
It’s not uncommon to be a little weary by television actors making the leap to the big screen. In the case of Andy Samberg, we’re used to seeing his brilliance in five-minute-long SNL shorts, which tend to massively blow up on YouTube the next day. Thankfully for his first motion picture debut, Samberg and friends aren’t trying to stretch out any existing characters. Instead, we are introduced to yet another film flooded with moronic individuals, including a wannabe stuntman who has yet to actually land a trick.
Rod Kimble (Samberg) has devoted his life to being an extraordinary daredevil but he clearly lacks the skill to pull off anything on the Evil Knievel level. He rides a broken down moped that needs to be peddled like a bicycle, which usually leads to him falling way short of actually making his jumps, resulting in brutal crash landings into vehicles. But Rod has the heart of a champion and even though he’s basically delusional about his abilities, he never gives up.
With his abusive stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) knocking on death’s door, Rod’s determined to raise 50,000 dollars by jumping 15 school buses in order to pay for a heart transplant, just so he has another opportunity to finally beat Frank’s ass in a fight. The gorgeous Isla Fisher enters the picture as a potential love interest for Rod, but she’s dating a super-jackass named Jonathan (Will Arnett). And that’s about it really. The rest of the movie is filled with Rod’s near death experiences and punch-dancing routines in the forest set to a horrendously good ’80s music montage.
Hot Rod has several good laughs in it; it moves rather quickly and scenes tend to cut out moments after a gag, making for a fast-paced flow that winds up saving this film from wandering into dreadful Napoleon Dynamite territory, though there are still many similarities. Hot Rod is pointless for most of the time, meaning that random lines and gags are thrown in for no reason other than a quick laugh. It’s a style that can be pulled off with fine results but in this case, it makes for filler and comes off as tedious.
There are certainly moments in Hot Rod that are great but there are more moments of where awkward silence replaces laughter. Once you get the idea that Rod is going to fall down a lot to "Rock the Night” by Europe for 90 minutes, you sort of tune out.
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