Hot Rod (2007)


The Movie Brave Enough to be Viciously Unfunny

This movie definitely came as a punishment for having the gall to do something creative and productive. My involvement with this movie started when my friend Robert reported to his brother Phil and the rest of my group that this movie was the funniest movie ever. He talked it up so much that my group met up to watch this movie. We were almost the only people in the theater, but it had been out for a bit so we didn’t think that was unusual. What we did think was unusual was the fact that we wanted to kill ourselves while watching it. Bring us up into the present and the first movie requested by one of my best friends, Phil, is this movie again. It makes me wonder if he thinks he’s in my will or something. Well, enough pussyfooting around the issue. This movie is Hot Rod, directed by Akiva Schaffer and starring Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Jorma Taccone, Ian McShane, Sissy Spacek, Will Arnett, and Chris Parnell.

Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) has tried to emulate his deceased father for his entire life by trying to be a stuntman. Problem is, he sucks at it. Every time he tries to jump something he crashes and injures himself. It’s partially due to his stupidity, but one could also blame his ramp builder Rico (Danny McBride) for his shoddy craftsmanship. Rod lives at home with his mom (Sissy Spacek) and his stepfather (Ian McShane), as well as his little half brother/team manager Kevin (Jorma Taccone). For nearly inexplicable reasons, Rod is constantly trying to beat his stepfather in a fist fight, but is never able. His stepfather has apparently had a heart condition for a long time and it is revealed to Rod that his step father doesn’t have long to live. Unless, of course, he’s able to accomplish the highly unlikely task of raising $50,000 for his heart transplant. A good portion of the rest of the movie is basically a really long montage of Rod preparing for a gigantic jump to make the money. There’s also a pretty typical love interest thing in there between Rod and Denise (Isla Fisher), but she has a boyfriend (Will Arnett). Kevin makes a video of Rod crashing a lot that makes Rod doubt his abilities, but also makes people interested in watching him jump. His team convinces him to go through with the jump, an AM radio station sponsor’s it, he fails the jump but makes the money, and gets Denise. At the end, he finally beats his stepfather in combat.

Expectations are a really important thing when it comes to movies. If you go in to see a move you’ve heard is awful and it turns out to be mediocre, you come out pleasantly surprised with positive memories in your brain. If you’ve heard that a movie is hilarious and you spend the entire movie waiting for a time when you will laugh, you will want to kill yourself. The best thing I can say about Hot Rod is that, this time, I went in knowing it was awful so it was nowhere near as painful as it was the first time. Is it good? Hell no! Is it funny? Not even remotely. But, I didn’t kill myself. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for.

Let’s talk story and laughs. …Okay, there aren’t any. The story is pretty typical and one I’m sure we’ve all seen in better movies before. Someone needs an operation that costs a certain amount of money, something comes along that will pay exactly the amount needed, everything works out. Also you have love interest, problem, resolution. And, just for good measure, throw in some of the old “guy with a passion for something, doubts himself, begins to believe in himself again”. All very typical. What could set that apart in a comedy is some good laughs. Should’ve told them that before they made the movie, I guess. The jokes in this movie span from trying to be funny but failing to epically unfunny. The greater majority of their jokes are slapstick jokes of people falling down a hill for about 5 minutes or so. This came right after – and subsequently ruined – one of the closest parts in the movie to amusing, when Rod gets angry and has to go to the woods to dance it out, doing a parody of Footloose. This is cute for a while, then they ruin it with slapstick humor again. And, if they’re not that, they’re strange jokes that I’m sure someone thought was humorous when they were writing it, but I just found pointless and annoying. Examples of this is when Rod rang a bell and they went around their group trying to imitate the tone with their voice. …Funny, right? Or how about when Rod and Frank were reconciling after a fight and they ended it with “Cool beans”, and then took that and cut it up so they were almost making a rap out of cool beans. I can’t really explain it, and I don’t want to. Rod also tends to be unable to keep his thoughts in his head and so he says most of them out loud. Also, for some reason, he tries to call upon the spirit of random animals before he attempts a jump. There was also a joke about the pronunciation of “whiskey” and “what” in the movie that you may remember from an episode of Family Guy when Stewie over-pronounces the “h” in Cool Whip. And yes, I did do the research. That episode of Family Guy came out a year before this movie. It was in the episode Barely Legal from 2006. I’m not saying that the makers of Hot Rod are unfunny people that copied Family Guy, I’m just saying they’re unfunny.

I feel like I can describe my thoughts about the performances in this movie in once sentence: “I normally like *blank*, but they did nothing to elevate this movie above crap.” That will pretty much cover it. Andy Samberg’s crew all have roughly the same cocky idiot persona in the movie. Danny McBride plays every other Danny McBride character minus the funny things to say, though he is probably the one that comes the closest to being funny. Isla Fisher does a fine job, but I admittedly mostly liked her because she’s cute. She pretty obviously wants Rod (pun intended), but he’d rather ruin it for most of the movie by being a cocky idiot. Will Arnett’s performance was interesting because he seemed to be the one person in the movie who realized the events of the movie were stupid and unfunny, so I was able to relate to him. Sissy Spacek was the mother in this movie, and the performance she put on when she had to confess to Rod that his father wasn’t actually a daredevil was way too good for this movie.

Beyond the somewhat enjoyable, 80’s rock soundtrack, there’s nothing in this movie that makes it worth watching. It takes a bunch of overused premises and mixes them in to a bunch of stupid slapstick jokes and non sequitars. I like almost every person that acted in this movie, but the movie was so bad that this didn’t matter. If you think America’s Funniest Home Videos is the funniest thing on television (as long as you think that solely because of the videos of people getting hit in the groin), then this may be a movie you’ll enjoy. Everyone else, I wouldn’t bother. And I would just like to say that you are all welcome for me lowering your expectations about this movie so you don’t have the same problem my friends and I had. I give Hot Rod “I said you look shitty” out of “I owe you a shot in the nuts.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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