By: Katy Kleinginna (Two Beers) –
Hot Rod is a dream come true for Lonely Island enthusiasts, but a guilty pleasure for those not singing along to “Dick in a Box.” Stuntman Rod (Andy Samberg) is spastic and uncoordinated through out the film and half-brother Kevin (Jorma Taccone) is only ever one step behind Rod filming each of his stunt sessions. The brothers spend most of their days with their mechanically inclined peers (Bill Hader and Danny McBride.) Hilarity ensues for the moped wielding stuntman and his crew when Rod is determined to raise $50,000 for his step father’s “conveniently priced heart transplant.” (No, Rod doesn’t wish his step father well. Rod wants Frank’s health restored so he can kick his step father’s ass and claim his manhood and respect.)
The boys of Lonely Island are fully aware of their idiocy and are completely fine with it. In fact, the cast capitalizes on their silliness by making it widely available with their SNL sketches, videos and comedy albums. The movie pledges nothing more than “stupid funny” quips to bring laughs perfectly tailored to its mostly juvenile demographic.
Irreverent, charming and strange, Hot Rod is everything you could have hoped for from Andy Samberg and friends. There was no public outcry for Lonely Island: The Movie at the time of the film’s release, but the film has gained significant cult status through the years with GIFs of the film still floating around the web more than five years after the movie’s debut.
Hot Rod plays out like a series of inside jokes each lasting slightly longer than the last. The amiable nature of the cast allows for the film to flow carelessly, but the dialogue detracts from the film’s overall likability when the jokes last longer than the laughs they produce.
Explaining the film’s humor to friends who have yet to see it is comparable to explaining an inside joke to someone on the outside. If a joke is honestly funny, outside parties can laugh along, but situational comedy rarely reigns true post-situation. The same is true for film, especially in the case of Hot Rod. Much of the film’s humor lies in the idea that the jokes and camaraderie would be hilarious in real life, but falls flat in a few scenes. When a film strays too far off the beaten path, it toes the line between entertaining and taxing. Between the 80’s synth-pop soundtrack and oddball characters, the film trades in a valuable story line for cheap laughs and hyperactive stunts.
Hot Rod‘s charm is contagious. Taccone and Samberg absolutely shine in their roles as half brothers from the same mother, even when their humor becomes monotonous and more slapstick than most viewers care to sit through. Isla Fischer (Rod’s love interest and crew mate) is gorgeous and sweet without falling flat.
The Academy and much of America overlooked this film, but it’s a cute movie for a night in with your best buds.
Take a Drink: whenever you hear synth’d out music
Do a Shot: when a joke lasts longer than the laugh
Take a Drink: When you’re pretty sure a joke in the film was just a leftover inside joke from pre-production
Do a Shot: when Will Arnett’s character is more douche than funny