Hot Rod
So Hot Right Now!
Andy Samberg defies big box office death in ‘Hot Rod.'


If you're reading this review of "Hot Rod," you're probably on the Internet, which means you've possibly seen previous efforts by filmmakers Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, whose "Saturday Night Live" skits have been passed around the Web more than clips about Mentos and Diet Coke.

If you're Web-savvy, you might know Samberg and company were part of a video-comedy troupe called the Lonely Island before landing dream gigs on SNL, where Samberg now performs and Taccone and Schaffer write.

If none of these factual snippets are hitting the mark, maybe you recognize Samberg as a broadband diplomat, responsible for famously funny SNL digital shorts like the "Lazy Sunday" rap and the equally ridiculous "D*ck in a Box" video with Justin Timberlake.

So what was the next logical move in the Lonely Island boys' plan to take over the world of comedic high jinks? Make a big-screen epic combining the best of their sketch-comedy sensibilities, obviously.

Perhaps the most random movie of 2007, "Hot Rod" tells the story of Rod Kimble (Samberg). Kimble has dreamed of becoming a stuntman his entire life. If being a high-flying, death-defying stuntman seems a bit overly ambitious, Rod's other dream - defeating his stepfather (Ian McShane) in battle - is even less attainable.

Rod's real father, a protégé to Evil Knieviel, died when Rod was just a boy. Struggling with his own identity and self-worth, Rod wants to earn his stepfather Frank's respect, and the only way he can do that (he thinks) is to punch him in the face numerous times and hopefully cause some internal bleeding.

And that, my friends, is where the plot of the film (yes, there is one) comes into play. Rod's stepfather becomes ill and is in desperate need of a new heart. Rod devises the ultimate stunt to raise money for his stepfather's surgery.

The idea is that Rod will feel his victory over his stepfather is soiled if he kicks his stepfather's butt while he's on his deathbed, so Rod gets his stepfather a new heart so he can beat him to death afterwards.

Meanwhile, his crush Denise (Isla Fisher, "Wedding Crashers") is back in town, but she has a boyfriend (played in a nice cameo by fellow SNL star Will Arnett), much to Rod's heartbreak.

With the help of his stepbrother Kevin (Taccone) and friends Dave (the hilariously deadpan Bill Hader) and Rico (Danny McBride - keep your eye on this guy), Rod puts together a plan to earn the $50,000 for his stepfather's surgery and to win over Denise.

OK, so "Hot Rod" isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as comedic cousins "Anchorman" or "Talladega Nights," but what it lacks in laughs it makes up for in sincerity. "Hot Rod" is the misunderstood, kooky second cousin to those Will Ferrell movies, filled with 1980s nostalgia and stupidly smart wit.

Complete with a ridiculously radical synthesizer score and plenty of training (and dancing) montages, "Hot Rod" has a big heart and will fill all your needs for sweet summer randomness.

The Lonely Island boys, along with Seth Rogen's ("Knocked Up," "Superbad") gang of uproarious allies, are changing the face of comedy. Expect big things from Samberg and company. I have a feeling "Hot Rod" is just the beginning when it comes to the insane wittiness to come.
Reviewed by: adam