Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hot Rod - Not A Perfect 10

When I first saw advertisements for Hot Rod back in 2007, it looked funny to me, but I ended up not seeing it then. When many Blockbusters in my area were going away, I grabbed this movie remembering I wanted to see it, but I still didn't get around to actually doing so. After a tour through the Paramount archives however, my interest grew upon seeing a taco costume from the movie on display, and the idea of the scene it was used for sounded hilarious. While the movie has a lot of funny moments in it, overall I think it's just alright.

The movie follows Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg), an amateur stuntman who dreams of becoming a professional following in the footsteps of his father. Meanwhile he regularly grapples with his stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) in order to defeat him in a fight and earn his respect. After failing a public attempt to jump a swimming pool on his moped, Rod returns home to find out that Frank is ill and needs a heart transplant in order to survive. Motivated by his desire to win a fight with his stepfather, Rod, with some help from his friends, decides to raise the money needed for the transplant by performing the biggest stunt ever, one that can outdo even Evel Knievel.

The humor of this movie is downright hilarious, being made mostly of slapstick, though it does fall flat on occasion. Aside from seeing Rod fail miserably at his jumps, a particulalry funny moment is when, after a rather humorous parody of Footloose, the stuntman loses his balance and falls over a log, leading to a long sequence of him falling down a hill; this moment actually gets funnier the longer he keeps falling, in fact it takes a break for a few seconds before resuming his lengthy roll. Another memorable joke comes from the dialogue, in which Rod asks his crush Denise (Isla Fisher) who would win in a fight between a grilled cheese sandwich and a taco, which is then acted out much later in the movie when the hero has an out-of-body experience, complete with cartoonish costumes and some (fake) blood.

If I were to give an example of the film's low points in the comedy, it would be nearly every scene with Barry Pasternak (Chris Parnell), an AM radio host who hates FM radio and color TV. While the idea of someone like that is actually pretty funny on its own, Chris Parnell's humor usually takes the form of odd sex jokes, which likely contributed to the PG-13 rating, that are a little out of place with the rest of the movie's slapstick and non-sexual dialogue jokes, including a scene where his character describes a tattoo on his chest with greater detail than is necessary. Aside from times like these, the movie is consistently funny.

For a comedy movie, the acting in Hot Rod isn't too bad, with each of the main characters for the most part acting such that it only adds more silliness to the overall product. The stunts themselves aren't things to try at home, naturally, but the home-made ramps used for much of them look pretty well-constructed, though the actual performances of said stunts are made funnier by the fact that a moped is used rather than an actual motorcycle. Still, the effort put into setting these stunts up is something to appreciate.

Hot Rod isn't one of the best movies I've seen, but it is one of the funniest. The humor does go a bit low a few times in the third act, but otherwise I couldn't stop laughing. If you're in the mood for something funny to watch on a Friday night, this is your movie.

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