Director: Akiva Schaffer
Writer: Pam Brady
Starring: Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Sissy Spacek, and Ian McShane
Hot Rod is an incredibly underrated comedy that was released back in 2007. It features a script from Pam Brady (who used to work on South Park) and features all three members of The Lonely Island comedy group both in front and behind the camera. Akiva Schaffer directs, while Jorma Taccone and Andy Samberg star as half-brothers.
The film follows stuntman Rod (Andy Samberg), who spends his time trying to honour his dad by attempting to follow in his footsteps and perform stunts, except he fails pretty much every time. When Rod isn’t failing at being a stuntman, he’s literally fighting his stepdad Frank (played by Ian McShane, who pretty much steals every scene he’s in), in search of his approval. They have full-on battles in the basement, while Rod’s mum (Sissy Spacek) just goes on about her day upstairs ignoring it. Rod is desperate for Frank’s respect and believes that if he beats him in a fight then he’ll gain it.
The plot really gets going when Rod learns that Frank is dying and needs a heart transplant, which means that Rod will never be able to fight him in a true fight and gain his respect. Out of pure desperation to fight him, Rod starts work to raise the money to perform an insane stunt, jumping a motorcycle over fifteen buses, and hoping that he will sell enough money through the stunt to pay for Frank’s transplant and then beat him in a fight to gain his respect.
This isn’t going to be a film for everyone. The comedy is weird and a little on the absurd side. The plot is completely dumb, but in a good way. The characters are silly and goofy. This is going to be something you’re either going to love or hate. If you like something a little different, then give it a go. It has jokes that go on so long they stop being funny, and then continue until they’re funny again, crazy stunts that look painful, and awkward moments that make you want to stop watching. It also has a lot of heart and the characters are all really well-written and performed. Andy Samberg is charming and instantly likable and every scene he shares with Ian McShane, where they’re constantly having digs at each other, are just brilliant.
When Hot Rod first came out, it didn’t perform well, financially or critically. In the years since, it’s found its audience and is becoming a cult-classic, which it completely deserves. A hidden and underrated gem of a comedy that’s aged incredibly well in the fifteen years since it was first released. If you’re a fan of weird comedy, then it’s definitely worth a go.
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