After a long hiatus from the silver screen, Lorne Michaels and his SNL Studios are once again backing a few of his Saturday Night Live comics in a feature presentation. More often than not, these forays into the unknown produce dismal movies (see “The Ladies Man” and “Superstar”) that become minor hits thanks to Blockbuster and acne-faced kids vegging out in their dorm rooms. I wasn’t entirely sure how Hot Rod was going to fare, since I knew so little about it. I had my suspicions, though.
It’s times like these that I wish I wasn’t so good at what I do. Basically, Hot Rod is about watching a guy doing a “Jackass” impersonation without realizing he was doing an impersonation — just with a semblance of a plot sprinkled on for good measure. Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) is, for all intents and purposes, a moron. He continually attempts to do outrageous jumps with his moped only to fail miserably. He is oblivious to the ridicule and decides to take his stunt work to the big time to try and raise money for his father-in-law, Frank (Ian McShane) who has been diagnosed with a faulty heart. Rod gathers his crew — Dave (Bill Hader), Rico (Danny McBride), Kevin (Jorma Taccone) and newcomer Denise (Isla Fisher) to help him prepare for a jump over 15 school buses. Story complete. The writer (Pam Brady) hopes the jokes throughout are enough to keep the movie afloat.
And this movie is full of mindless antics. Unfortunately, most of them fall short of the mark nearly as much as Rod misses his landings. Mildly funny is the 80’s gear that Rod and his team use and wear. Aside from Denise and his brother Kevin, these guys have no concept of reality. Seeing these guys wearing the headbands, polyester shirts and concert tees, made me realize once again how pathetic people looked back then. And you’re going to shake your head when you see the getup Rod wears. Aside from that the only other funny moments were at the beginning of the movie and again once towards the end. Not a very good tally for a comedy.
However, all these bonehead comedies, whether good or bad, has to have a mostly hot girl cast as the love interest. Thankfully, Hot Rod doesn’t disappoint here. Isla Fisher is high on my list of MILFs (if you don’t know what that is, Google it). She managed to bring a smile to my face on several occasions when everything else in the scene crashed and burned.
Mainly, the reason behind the lackluster performance is as with most SNL skits the writers didn’t know when to end the joke. A quick rapport of “cool beans“ statements between guys making sure there aren’t any problems between them is funny — doing it for several minutes and mixing in music to it isn’t. Having Denise’s boyfriend Jonathan (Will Arnett) screaming “Babe, no” to her in crazy ways is funny for a few shots but after 50 times, the joke has lost its footing. There are plenty of other examples I could illustrate but I think you get the point.
Seeing as most of the other jokes in this flick have been beaten to death by previous movies or are just plain too stupid to be funny, I can’t give it my endorsement. Either watch the original idiot stuntman “Super Dave” or wait for one of the good low-key comedies like “Rocket Science” to hit the theaters. As for Hot Rod, in a few months you’ll be able to catch it wherever there are a lot of stoned, lonely guys hanging about. It’s a win-win situation – you’ll get high and make some new friends. My guess is, the movie will be much funnier inebriated too.