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 fathers 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 DVD 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 DVD case (with those lovely “security” locks on the side) without any inserts. Disc art is the usual Paramount affair, plain grey, and menus are easily navigated.
From an audio/visual standpoint, the film looks awesome. Sharp colors and plenty of detail are present throughout the film and the audio mix is adequate for a comedy, even throwing in an occasional thump from the subwoofer at times. The films not one you’re going to look to for immaculate transfers, but it does its job well and doesn’t distract from your viewing of the film.
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 keep 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 of which are in anamorphic widescreen, although the outtakes and deleted scenes have higher aspect ratios than the actual film itself), we have an eight minute semi making-of in the form of “Ancestors Protect Me: Behind the Scenes of Hot Rod.” The featurette 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 (running nearly fifteen minutes) 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 near four minute “outtake” reel which is more of a clipshow 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 Videos” (slightly over four minutes) are included and are all extended versions of what we saw in the film itself and a two minute “Punch Dance” goes into detail about the Footloose-inspired segment.
A minute and a half of “home video” footage of the Hot Rod score being composed is included as well and a collection of trailers (Hot Rod’s original theatrical trailer included) wraps up the extras for this release.
Overall this is a solid release to a film that was in no way made a large impact at the box office. Hopefully the film will find a nice cult following on DVD, as it’s definitely ranked up there with Anchorman for hilarious-dumb-comedy film for me. Highly Recommended.
Hot Rod arrives on DVD and HD-DVD on November 27th.