HOT ROD

1.5 Stars
Year Released: 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 88 minutes
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Those who follow Saturday Night Live still (what is wrong with you?) need no introduction to Andy Samberg. He is one third of the trio that is The Lonely Island, the other two being Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, a comedy team known for their parodies of all things popular. Their digital shorts “Lazy Sunday” (a rap video which chronicled two guys going to the movies one fine Sunday afternoon) and “Dick in the Box” (a hilarious spoof of shitty 90s R&B acts like Color Me Badd), which both co-star Samberg, are probably the best things to air on SNL in the past decade. Unfortunately their transition into the world of feature filmmaking proves that their comedy is only good in small doses. There are enough laughs here to fill a five-minute skit but sadly, the film lasts a lot longer than that.

Samberg plays Rod Kimble, a guy who is out of touch socially and, well, every other way a person can be. He considers himself a stuntman and spends a great deal of time trying to jump over various vehicles and gaps with his silly little moped. When he learns that his stepfather needs a heart transplant but can’t afford the $50,000 for the operation, Rod decides to jump 15 school buses in an attempt to earn the cash.

It’s about right here in the story (probably about 15 minutes in) when you begin to realize how close to “Napoleon Dynamite” the other elements of this film are. Rod’s relationship with his stepfather, who he challenges to a fight everyday, can easily be compared to Napoleon’s relationship with his uncle Rico. The clothing that Rod and his stunt team wear is just as similar. Surely Samberg and crew could have come up with something a touch more original. Even the dialogue, as oddly peculiar as some of the lines are, bring back memories of “Dynamite.” This film could have almost been an official sequel.

Even aside from The Lonely Island trio, there is a great deal of talent sprinkled about this picture. Screenwriter Pam Brady assisted with writing “Team America” and “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.” Each of those films is filled with jokes that pay off brilliantly and a definite coolness this film completely lacks. Even though those characters are animated (or puppets), it was easy to find many of them interesting and with range. Here, we get no such pleasure as each character is as annoying as the next, thanks in part to their lack of depth. It’s hard trying to find something in Rod to laugh at but it’s even harder when all of his friends are just as uninteresting as he is.

Then there are the appearances of Sissy Spacek and Ian McShane. I can understand why McShane, mostly known for his television performances in shows like “Deadwood”, would take this role. He just hasn’t been on the big screen all that much (though he had a great role in “Sexy Beast”). But Spacek?

There is an interesting movement in film that’s been going on for the last couple of years. “Geek Wave” is probably the best way to describe it. Defining it would probably be something like this: a motion picture filled with characters no one can really relate to, often contains lines of dialogue without relation to anything whatsoever and is usually devoid of complicated plot. This isn’t all bad though. Just watch “Me and You and Everyone We Know” to see how great it can be and then watch “Hot Rod” to see its dark side. It’s sad when the most interesting part of a film is a dream sequence involving a large taco fighting an equally massive grilled cheese sandwich.



Posted on August 5, 2007 in Reviews by
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