"Hot Rod" is not a mainstream comedy by any definition, but it is a delightfully goofy film built for the youtube generation. It's often funny, often stupid and always edgy in a non-political or social way. It's edgy cult comedy at it's bes
Hot Rod (2007, HD-DVD)
Directors: Akiva Schaffer
Producers: Lorne Michaels, Will Ferrell, John Goldwyn, Jimmy Miller
Writers: Pam Brady
Features: * Commentary * Featurettes * Deleted Scenes * Outtakes * 5.1 Dolby TrueHD * Dolby Digital 5.1 Plus
Andy Samberg ... Rod Kimble
Jorma Taccone ... Kevin Powell
Bill Hader ... Dave
Danny R. McBride ... Rico
Isla Fisher ... Denise
Sissy Spacek ... Marie Powell
Ian McShane ... Frank Powell
Will Arnett ... Jonathan
Chris Parnell ... Barry Pasternak
"Hot Rod" is a dumb movie. It's not crass like "Superbad" and it's not irreverent like "Borat." Rather, it's a film designed for the internet crowd--the folks who loved "Napoleon Dynamite" and youtube videos like "D**k in a Box" and "Myspace: The Movie." And that's not a slam on those people, but an honest assessment of why most mainstream critics hated this movie--they hate that generation.
"Hot Rod" is not the best movie ever, nor is it particularly laugh-out-loud funny, but it does have a keen sense of humor and keeps the durp jokes flowing during the down time. What was interesting about the film was it's nihilistic style of comedy. These weren't easy jokes, witty jokes or well developed jokes. The jokes themselves came from a more guttural, primal place. Even the silly durp jokes have a refreshing sense of style.
The only real issue with the film is that it just doesn't have enough jokes to sustain it's 85 minute running time, and like most internet videos, it wears out it's welcome after a short period of time. Produced by Lorne Micheals and directed by "D**k in a Box" director Akiva Schaffer, the film moves like a wayward off-color sketch. "SNL's" Andy Samberg is Rod, a 20-something stuntman with few stunts under his belt and little talent. In order to raise money for his sick step-father (the hilarious Ian McShane, who's enjoying himself here), with whom Rod would like to see get well so he can beat him up (!), Rod decides he'll do a huge stunt. The film itself was originally designed to be a Will Ferrell vehicle and it shows through in a lot of ways. And honestly, if Ferrell had starred this probably would have been a more accessible film to the mainstream. But Samberg does what he does best and fits well into the role. Along for the ride are Bill Hader, who appeared in all four major comedies this year ("The Brothers Solomon", "Knocked Up", "Superbad and this) and the stunningly gorgeous Isla Fisher (Borat is a lucky man) is also here as the love interest to Samberg's Rod.
"Hot Rod" is certainly not for everyone's tastes, but it's bound to find it's audience on home video and develop a cult following. It's a movie that's just as dumb as it is clever, in the best possible way.
Film Report Card:
As Entertainment: B+
As a Film: C-
This is a review of the HD-DVD version of "Hot Rod."
Paramount presents "Hot Rod" in 2.35:1 widescreen on 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 video. I was surprised by how subdued "Hot Rod" was considering how stunning Paramount's other comedy release, "Blades of Glory" looked. The color palette here is very muted with browns and greens, so there's not much lush color to fill the screen. Image is sharp, but not as sharp as some releases. Black levels are spot-on, but the overall look and feel of the film is very natural and muted, which doesn't lend itself to reference HD material. It's a fine transfer, but nothing to cry home about.
Paramount gives fans two tracks to choose from--a Dolby TrueHD track and a Dolby Digital Plus track. Both are decent tracks with little surround usage. This is a very dialog centric film with little effects to speak of. There were a few sequences that grabbed my attention, namely the explosion midway through the film and finale, which takes place at a local stadium of sorts. Placement is finely mixed and the overall presentation is stellar, just not very robust.
Paramount offers up a decent amount of special features for fans of the film to enjoy. First up is a commentary from actors Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and director Akiva Schaffer. These guys love what they do and it shows. They come off as fun loving, but somewhat annoying and I'm sure that's the way they are in reality, but it's all part of their charm. If you like these guys, you'll like the commentary, if you don't, well...
Next up, we're treated to a slew of deleted and extended scenes. I'm surprised we didn't get a longer, unrated version of the film with some of these scenes cut back into the feature. Not all of them are worth watching, but some were actually pretty funny. Optional commentary is available. There are also outtakes which feature some deleted material and gags. If you like the movie, it's worth a watch.
Also there's a pretty standard EPK featurette entitled "Ancestors Protect Me." It's nothing really special, but worth a look for fans. Finally, there's rather quick glimpse into the score's recording session, a series of somewhat amusing videos about Rod, made for the 'documentary' found in the film and a theatrical trailer (the only special feature presented in high definition).
The trailer is presented in HD. That's it.
"Hot Rod" is not a mainstream comedy by any definition, but it is a delightfully goofy film built for the youtube generation. It's often funny, often stupid and always edgy in a non-political or social way. It's edgy cult comedy at it's best. The HD-DVD presentation is not stellar, but if you own the hardware, I'd give this disc a spin.
HD-DVD Report Card:
HD Content: N/A
Overall Value: B
On HD-DVD: November 27th, 2007
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----R. L. Shaffer