A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
There seems to be a modern trend within comedic pictures released in the naughties (or 00’s) that sees genuine, deep, sophisticated humour be pushed aside for loud, random, over-the-top stupidity that tends to generate a faster and more consistent laugh.
This tactic is as old as the hills; Monty Python were the kings of blending the two extremes together seamlessly. The random and substance-less tactic utilised within films (or as it should now be known; “the Anchorman strategy”) is not necessarily a bad thing.
Most of the time it pays off, whilst other times it manages to generate at least a chuckle. For a film that combines the “Anchorman strategy”, SNL, “The Lonely Island” and obscene slapstick comedy, “Hot Rod” is an excellent amalgamation.
Directed by the third member of the popular comedy/music group “The Lonely Island”, Akiva Schaffer’s “Hot Rod” is about an ambitious young man named Rod (Andy Samburg) who sets himself the goal of performing an incredible motorcycle stunt in order to win the respect of his stepfather.
Rod’s stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) is a proud and butch individual who tries to make a man out of Rod on a regular basis. He is upset by Rod’s inability to stand his ground and defend himself like a man; Rod of course is angered by his under-appreciation and vows to one day “kick Frank’s ass!”.
The only thing stopping him is the fact that Frank has a bad heart that sees him sidelined indefinitely. With his priorities all over the place, Rod then sets out to raise enough money to fund Frank’s treatment, simply so that upon recovery, he can fight him and earn the respect he rightfully deserves.
The plot is ridiculous, narrow and downright dumb. However, “Hot Rod” is not trying to be anything spectacular, and nor should it feel obliged to. It’s one thing to have a ridiculous plot, script and direction within a film, but it’s rather difficult to make it all work in your favour, combing together to create something quite impressive. It’s the self awareness of “Hot Rod” that adds so much flair to the otherwise flair-less storyline.
There are some troglodytic lines of dialogue scattered throughout the film, but they’re delivered so awkwardly and deliberately, all you can do is laugh along. This isn’t a masterpiece, but it definitely is one of the more known cult comedies of recent times.
The performances of the cast aren’t great; they appear to be the equivalent of a series of extended SNL skits, but it doesn’t matter at the end of it all. Andy Samburg plays Andy Samburg, Bill Hader plays Bill Hader, Danny McBride plays Danny McBride (when doesn’t he?) and Chris Parnell plays Chris Parnell; what you see is what you get.
The only stand out character was Jorma Taccone’s Kevin, who is Rod’s half brother. He is a shy, awkward and delightful wreck of an individual who appears to be nothing like Taccone in real life. Needless to say he adds a great sense of contrast, sympathy and charm to the picture.
As far as gags are concerned, they mainly revolve around slapstick, satire and stupid dialogue.
There appears to be a blatant rip-off of a famous Family Guy moment involving the mispronunciation of “wh”, but I’m not sure what came first so it is unfair to judge at this stage. It may be a surprising thing to read, but most of the laughs came from a scene showing Rod falling down a hill…and nothing else. It’s simplistic and clever; it worked so, so well.
The laughs are frequent and the chaos is constant. “Hot Rod” is nothing spectacular but it need not be; it’s a simple comedy for a night in when you’re feeling like watching something dumb and idiotic.
If you’re a fan of SNL, this won’t be a radicle departure from the norm, but even if you don’t enjoy the b-grade comedic antics of the programme (like myself) there is still a lot to love about “Hot Rod”, it’s silly, whacky, stupid and everything in between.