Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover of Hot Rod is a throwback to the 1970’s, and of course the king of all stuntmen, Evel Knievel. The cover wasn’t bad for this over the top kind of film. The menus followed the theme, and overall were decent.
Hot Rod includes your standard commentary, which is actually pretty funny, as well as some random extras. A standout was the “Punch Dance” short in which Andy Samberg does a take off of Kevin Bacon’s famous Footloose dance in the forest. The actual take is in the movie, but it is nice to see the background on the shot, with Samberg’s commentary. Other extras include a set of “Kevin’s Videos” which are the videos that Rod’s younger brother creates in the film to show off Rod’s stuntman prowess, or lack thereof. There are also outtakes and deleted scenes, which are worth a view.
Hot Rod is kind of funny, in a sort of “we didn’t really think this concept all of the way through” sort of way. It feels like someone is trying to show us that Andy Samberg is so funny that he should be a huge movie star, before Andy Samberg is ready to be a huge movie star. The concept of the film is great. Rod Kimble (Samberg) is a kid who thinks that he is destined to be a great stuntman due to the fact that he believes that his father (who supposedly was killed setting up a stunt for Evel Knievel) was a phenomenal 1970’s daredevil. Rod goes around the neighborhood with his “stunt crew” attempting huge stunts while on his moped, wearing a fake moustache which supposedly helps him at his beloved profession.
There are a few problems with this ideal situation however, with the main one being his father was never a stuntman. Add to this the troubling, and always funny fact that Rod is terrible at stunts, and you start to understand where this film is headed. In any event, Rod’s new stepfather (Ian McShane) beats the living daylights out of Rod at every turn, and will only respect Rod when he “becomes a man” and returns the beating. Rod learns that his stepfather has become ill and will die without a $50,000 surgery, and Rod decides to earn the money for the surgery, for the simple reason that if his stepfather dies before Rod can beat him up, he will never have earned his stepfather’s respect. Sounds like a very funny concept, and there are moments that are humorous, but I wanted this to be so much more than what it was.
There were moments where I really felt like Samberg and the film were relying on me to find certain things were really hysterical, and I really didn’t feel that way. It was almost like there was a disconnect between what they felt was funny, and what I felt was funny. It just felt as if this was an idea that was only partially fleshed out, and the laughs really relied on the audience completely buying into the whole idea of the film; which to me meant that I had to merely accept that this was going to be funny, and simply go along with that concept. I wasn’t always easy to do.
I didn’t really connect with the characters, and I didn’t feel like there was any real character development. While I hate to compare Hot Rod with Napoleon Dynamite, that is the closest film I can equate this to, and in that film, at least I felt connected to the main characters. As an example, in this film, Rod’s girlfriend/love interest is played by Isla Fisher, but it just feels like she is randomly put into the film, and there isn’t a reason for her to even care about Rod. There just isn’t much here that made me really connect enough to the characters. Basically I just was left to sit back and watch, and enjoy the random bits that were truly funny.
It is obvious to me that Andy Samberg is a funny guy, but it feels like this attempt at making it on the big screen just fell short, like many of Rod Kimble’s stunts. There were several times that I laughed out loud, but there were also times when I was almost bored with the half-baked, forced humor in Hot Rod.
Video & Audio: 6/10
(Squiddy) The video was often times grainy, and at times washed out. The fact that the video was pristine didn’t really take away from the experience, as this was not meant to be a high definition blockbuster, but it was at times noticeably sketchy. The audio was overwhelmingly underwhelming.
(Ascully) I took a look at the Blu-Ray version and while the picture is sharp and vibrant the movie doesn’t benefit from the HD format overall. I had a different experience with the sound portion than my fellow reviewer above as the Dolby TrueHD track was full of character and used the surround speakers during the stunt sequences to full effect.
This is a definite rent, if you have to see it. Most of the younger audience will know Samberg from his SNL tenure, and more precisely, his “Dick in a Box” sketch. While there were some really funny moments, I am personally hoping that Samberg’s next vehicle will be more thoroughly thought out. I would say only see this if you can’t live another minute without seeing Samberg in a cape and fake moustache falling off of a moped. Enough said.
Overall Score 5/10