Hot Rod is certainly a quirky little film. Sure, it’s absolutely hilarious and I laughed at it more than I probably should have, but Hot Rod takes the humor that Andy Samberg and crew brought to SNL with “Lazy Sunday” and “D**k in a Box” (which is actually mentioned on a sticker on the front cover—nothing like a “D**k in a Box” sticker to attract ones attention) and puts it in full length motion picture form. Some may think that’s a waste of film, but for those that have seen (and enjoyed) Samberg’s SNL work will no doubt thoroughly enjoy this film.
Following his father’s footsteps as a stuntman, Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) has been a stuntman all of his life. All Rod wants in life is to earn the respect of his step-father, Frank, who refuses to call him a man. The two have an odd relationship, taking it to levels of extreme violence in an attempt for Rod to prove to him that he’s worthy of his respect. Things seem to be going normal until Frank becomes ill and is diagnosed with a weak heart. Realizing that he will never able to earn his respect, Rod vows to raise the money for Frank so that he can finally give him the beat down that will warrant Rod the appreciation he deserves.
If you can’t tell from the movies overall premise, curing a man on his death bed so that Rod can beat him up, the film is absurdly silly and ludicrous. Of course, considering how much I love Anchorman, it’s no surprise that I found this film incredibly entertaining. From the opening montage to the final credits roll, nary a minute had gone by in the film that I was laughing at something. Oddly, and very inappropriately, I even found myself laughing at Rod’s recount of how his father died—it was told in such explicit detail that I couldn’t help but laugh, which I’m sure was the intention.
Sandberg is obviously the standout in the film, taking the lead role by the handle bars and spinning wheelies with it. It’s not a huge surprise that he would be able to stand up to this task—while still relatively fresh, he has his own humor style about him that you really don’t see in a lot of the other SNL actors, sans maybe Ferrel. Sandberg’s deliveries are always spot on and I quite honestly haven’t been this entertained in a long time while watching a comedy. I love dumb humor and this film is just filled to the brim with it, from Rod and Denise’s (Isla Fischer) frequent (and humorous) dialogue exchanges (such as “You look pretty.” “What?” “I said you look s****y.”) to Rod and Kevin (Jorma Taccone) saying “cool beans” in about fifty different ways, the film never let up on the stupid humor.
The other actors in the film, ranging from other SNL alumni Bill Hader and Chris Parnell (this man is in more comedies than Fred Willard, I swear) to Isla Fischer and Will Arnett (a pleasant surprise), all do a remarkable job in the film. In particular, Arnett’s outburst of “Baby, don’t go!” as Isla’s character leaves him is incredibly well done. A lot of jokes in the film first appear to go on for too long, then enter the “funny realm” again right before they end. Arnett’s outburst was one of them, the other was Rod’s fall through the forest—yet another thing many will find hilarious in the film, while others will just become annoyed.
Also worth noting is the films soundtrack. In addition to the hair that Sandberg sports throughout the film, the music comes from the 80s as well. Plenty of great tracks are included and in one instance we even have a Footloose inspired montage of Rod in the woods, doing what he calls “punch dancing.”
The film is relentless with Sandberg’s brand of humor, so use that as your judging point. Utterly random in almost every way, those who don’t enjoy this type of humor should stay away, as it is simply saturated from head to toe with it. Highly Recommended.
Arriving in a single disc release, Hot Rod isn’t loaded with extras but has just enough to satisfy your craving after watching the film. The film itself arrives in a standard amaray Elite Blu-ray case with an insert for firmware upgrades as well as the $10 rebate for upgrading to this Blu-ray edition. Disc art is the usual Paramount affair, plain grey, and menus are easily navigated. The main menu has a extended bit of Rod doing some “spins” on his bike, which I don’t recall seeing before and it seems to go on for quite a while.
Video for this film arrives in a VC-1 encoded 1080p video transfer that is a bit of a mixture. On one hand for a film made on a $5mill budget, it looks quite nice, but a lot of interior sequences (the restaurant scene in particular) are rather soft. Exterior shots look better (the forest dance punch sequence in particular), but it’s kind of an uneven transfer. The DVD transfer probably fared better due to the lower resolution, but you won’t really be offended by this transfer—it’s simple, but a solid looking film nonetheless. Also included is Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that sounds quite nice, with the films varied soundtrack making the most of the surrounds and subwoofer. Also included are French and Spanish DD5.1 tracks, as well as English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese soundtracks.
First up on the extras front is a feature length commentary from director Akiva Schaffer and actors Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone. Oddly enough, writer Pam Brady is absent, but the trio keeps the track lively throughout just by themselves. The commentary is about as goofy as the film itself and entertains its audience with ease. Moving onto the other extras on the set (all in standard definition, sans the trailer), we have Ancestors Protect Me: Behind the Scenes of Hot Rod (7:58), a featurette that has cast and crew interviews and features a bit of behind the scenes footage, most of which was shot on the big jump-day set.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (14:40) are next up, some of which are absolutely hilarious. Really good comedies often have a lot of great cut material, as a lot of the material is improved in ways that deviate wildly from the script. Schaffer, Samberg and Taccone again come together to provide commentary over these deleted scenes. Also included is a Outtakes Reel (3:33) which is more of a clip show of improv material than it is outtakes. I never saw anyone break character and none of the footage was used in the film, so I imagine this was just more cutting room floor material.
Eight Kevin’s Videos (4:24) are included and are all extended versions of what we saw in the film itself and Punch Dance (1:58) goes into detail about the Footloose-inspired segment. Home Video Footage of Orchestra Recording Session (1:28) shows off footage of the Hot Rod score being composed is included and the Theatrical Trailer (0:49, 1080p) wraps up the extras
Overall this is a complete clone of the previous DVD/HD-DVD releases from last year, but those who absolutely loved the film may want to pick this release up. The $10 rebate would go a long way in aiding in ones decision to upgrade, but this isn’t exactly a film that begs to be seen in high-definition As is, it’s definitely ranked up there with Anchorman for hilarious-dumb-comedy film for me. Highly Recommended.
Hot Rod arrives on Blu-ray on December 16th.