Review by Jack Foley
SATURDAY Night Live regular Andy Samberg revs up for big screen superstardom by playing an inept stuntman in this hopelessly silly comedy.
But while Hot Rod boasts some undeniably great moments, it also hits the skids on too many occasions and eventually comes a cropper in terms of being a fully rounded experience.
Samberg plays Rod, a wannabe stuntman who determines to win the respect of his grouchy stepdad Frank (Ian McShane) by beating him in a fight.
When Frank suddenly needs a heart transplant, Rod pledges to jump his motorbike over 15 buses – one more than Evel Knievel – to raise the funds needed not only to save him, but also to enable himself to finish the fight fair and square.
Sound odd? You bet and there are times when Akiva Schaffer’s movie exhibits the same offbeat charm as the likes of Napoleon Dynamite, not to mention a smattering of Will Ferrell-style all-Americanisms.
But it fails to hang together as a whole and viewers may find themselves counting down the minutes between each crazy stunt and the odd inspired verbal exchange.
On the plus side, the stunts are funny and include an attempted jump over a swimming pool and a hilarous tumble down a never-ending hill, while a bizarre “cool beans” exchange could attract the same cult comedy appeal of the “do you know how I know you’re gay” conversation from The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Samberg, too, does enough to suggest he has a bright movie future ahead of him, while supporting players such as Bill (Superbad) Hader and Danny R McBride stand out as Rod’s nerdy friends.
But Isla Fisher is horribly wasted as Rod’s impossibly cute love interest and Ian McShane isn’t given enough to sink his teeth into (despite having fun trying).
The overall result is appealing in places but typically as accident prone as its central character. You’ll laugh but only in small doses.
Running time: 88mins