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Movie Review: Hot Rod

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When I saw trailers for this film, I assumed this would be a silly movie. Akiva Schaffer, one of the current writers of Saturday Night Live, is at the helm of this film and that was enough to interest me in seeing this zany movie about a goofy Evil Knievel wannabe stuntman making jumps on a moped bike. So I anticipated having fun at the screening, but I was disappointed.

Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) is a dim-witted stuntman in this farce who leads a crew of losers. In his rural community, neighbors encourage him to perform hazardous leaps over large objects, trucks, and swimming pools which he fails to do in every attempt. His motivation is to gain the respect of his stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) who enjoys kicking his butt everyday. Ian McShane gives a genuine performance as an intimidating head of household. This routine of fighting with Frank continues until the day Frank has a heart attack. Without Frank around to fight with, Rod loses his motivation. Rod decides to raise money for Frank's medical treatment by jumping 15 buses. Bringing a healthy Frank home will restore Rod's motivation and daily fights for respect. As stupid as the plot sounds, it should be funny.

It is a fact that the jokes and gags in this movie are absurd. Many scenes of the dorky stuntman running into barriers can be compared to another SNL star, Adam Sandler, in The Waterboy. The film seems to carry the same type of comedy themes seen in SNL skits. The star of the movie, Andy Samberg, is an SNL cast member and his co-star Jorma Taccone, who plays Kevin (Rod's younger stepbrother), is an SNL writer. Apparently an SNL sensibility has heavily influenced the script. The jokes are there, but those same jokes are taken one step too far, making some of them outrageously ridiculous.

The wacky supporting cast did their best with a weak script. Isla Fisher's character is Denise, Rod's next door neighbor and love interest. She's a good actress and the fiancee of Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat. Sissy Spacek as Rod's mother was a waste of good talent. Bill Hader, Danny R. McBride, Will Arnett, and Chris Parnell supplied some humor, but the dialogue was too far over the top to be good.

This slapstick comedy tried to give a gift-wrapped ending to Rod the Nerd by making him a hero, but in my mind it did not make a difference. This movie resulted in nonsense and a waste of time.

Directed by: Akiva Schaffer
Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Release date: August 3, 2007
Genre: Action, Comedy and Romance
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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