Movie Review for Hot Rod (2007)

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Review #495 of 365
Movie Review of Hot Rod (2007) [PG-13] 88 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $9.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 4 August 2007
Time: 2:50 pm
DVD Release Date: 27 November 2007 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Directed by: Akiva Schaffer ("Saturday Night Live")
Written by: Pam Brady (Team America: World Police)

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Andy Samberg ("Saturday Night Live") • Jorma Taccone ("Saturday Night Live") • Bill Hader (Knocked Up) • Danny R. McBride (All the Real Girls) • Isla Fisher (The Lookout) • Sissy Spacek (Gray Matters) • Ian McShane (We Are Marshall) • Will Arnett (Blades of Glory) • Chris Parnell ("30 Rock")

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If you would like to read spoiler points for Hot Rod click here.
When it comes to imagery and setting, Hot Rod comes out of the gate a little confused, a spot it seems to stay in for most of the film. Possessing a look and feel of the middle 70s in almost every way, but with to many modern references, lingo, or conveniences associated with today, it's hard to imagine a the characters actually existing. In this is shared some overlap with Napoleon Dynamite, but that's really the only comparison between the two.

"…Hot Rod turned out more like Luke Warm Rod."
Whatever the intentions of writer Pam Brady and director Akiva Schaffer, the film also suffers from seeming like a "Saturday Night Live" sketch that's just been drawn out way too long. The essence of the story focuses on a post high school grad who's been doing 'nothing' with his life except dreaming of becoming the next Evel Knievel based on a photo his mother gave him as a boy when his father was supposedly killed during a stunt test for E.K. Holding on to the dreams and memories of his father have kept Rod Kimple (Andy Samberg) focused his whole juvenile life. He formed a stunt team of his step brother, Kevin Powell (Jorma Taccone) as team manager, Dave (Bill Hader) as his mechanic, and Rico (Danny R. McBride) his ramp builder, to perform his daredevil and death-defying stunts around his small town—several of which are in their full glory in the film's trailers. Unfortunately, most of his stunts end in utter failure—accidents that would kill most people, yet Rod survives. Evoking totem spirit guides before his most important stunts, Rod shows that he is a more multi-faceted individual that most people would take him to be. Still, his life is relatively aimless until two things happen: (a) Denise (Isla Fisher), the next door neighbor girl he's had a crush on for years, returns from college for the summer and notices him stirring his inner passions of desire and lust, and (b) his mother, Marie (Sissy Spacek) finally tells him that his step father Frank (Ian McShane) has but a few weeks to live due to a bad heart and only a transplant will save him. Given that Rod has never earned his step father's respect—something, apparently, a man can only win by beating him senseless and winning a fight with him—Rod leaps to the challenge to raise the $50,000 to get Frank a new heart so that then he can get another weekly opportunity to try to beat the crap out of him. He plans, therefore, two operations: (a) snare Denise by inviting her to join his crew, and (b) raise $5,000 doing anything and everything from serving as a human piñata at birthday parties to landing small scale stunts in order to fund the stunt of the century—Jumping over 15 School Buses on his Moped—as the ultimate fund raiser to earn the $50,000. At the core, these are noble plans by a guy with relatively good intentions overall.

The plot, well, let's be fair, isn't terribly revolutionary. What this story has going for it are the humorous caricatures of characters it has telling it. There's no denying that Rod is funny and that, with not too big of a stretch of the imagination, one can see the same elements present in Andy Samberg that were present in a young Adam Sandler. The "SNL" connection rises again (and if you didn't read the "where you might remember him/her from" section above, you might go back and check it now). So, if the film bears a strong resemblance to an "SNL" sketch draw out way too long, it probably shouldn't be too much of a surprise. It seems the "SNL" cast, crew, producers, writers, basically anyone involved in the show occasionally gets an idea to make a movie; and, unfortunately, all too often these movies get old half way through. They forget that what makes "SNL" work, is the success of a great idea that dims when drawn out too long. Rarely do these characters and ideas work for the length of a feature film, and this one is only 88 minutes at that. Even so, there's quite a bit of talent up there in Hot Rod both writing and acting. The meat of the material though, is insufficient, for them to be able to sustain. Now, again, to be fair, there are a lot of funny parts. There are even some touching moments. Will Arnett and Chris Parnell both had funny cameo parts too. But, in the end, these are pretty much in balance with gags that run too long. Because of this, Hot Rod turned out more like Luke Warm Rod.

Still Photo Gallery for Hot Rod (2007)

Andy Samberg as Rod Kimble

Andy Samberg as Rod Kimble

Andy Samberg as Rod and Isla Fisher as Denise

Andy Samberg as Rod all 'souped up'

Team Rod to the Rescue

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring Hot Rod (2007)
Cast Members
Andy SambergJorma TacconeBill Hader
Danny R. McBrideIsla FisherSissy Spacek
Ian McShaneWill ArnettChris Parnell
Akiva Schaffer
Pam Brady

Review-lite Hot Rod (2007) [max of 150 words]
Hot Rod might be more aptly entitled, Luke Warm Rod as the repetitive gage humor balances the touching moments and good humor. There's great hope when Rod Kimbell (Andy Samberg) plans to raise $50,000 for heart transplant surgery on his step father by doing the stunt of the century, but in the end the film bears too much resemblance to an "SNL" sketch that was drawn out to 88 minutes rather than a really fresh new feature film.

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