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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon

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Hot Rod

Following up their successful sting on Saturday Night Live, the video masterminds behind such hits as “Lazy Sunday, and “Dick in a Box”, the Lonely Island Boys have unleashed a wild comedy that skewers some of the best comedy standards of the last two decades.

In “Hot Rod”, Andy Samberg stars as Rod Kimble, self proclaimed stuntman who believes he is the offspring of a stunt coordinator. Rod never misses a chance to try a new death defying stunt with the help of his stunt crew. There is just one problem, Rod is probably the worst stuntman ever to grace the planet.

Armed with his trusty moped, Rod attempts to jump swimming pools, vans, and even body boards all with failed and side-splitting results.

Rod also is struggling to win the respect of his stepfather Frank, (Ian McShane), and comes to believe he can only do this by winning one of their numerous fight sessions. As is expected, Rod is even worse at fighting as he is at stunts. This is time leads to a real dilema for Rod, when Frank becomes ill and needs an operation which the family is unable to afford.

Rod decides that he must raise the money to save Frank, so he can kick his butt and gain his respect. Towards this end, Rod rent himself out as a stuntman for hire, and some very funny moments ensue as each outing is even more inept than the one that preceded it.

As if Rod did not have enough trouble in his life, he admires the newest member of his stunt team Denise (Isla Fisher), but runs afoul of her jerky boyfriend Jonathan (Will Arnett), which leads to even more mayhem as the film unfolds in an enjoyable but predictable love triangle. While the plot is not likely to set any new standards for originality, the film shines when it is sending up the numerous films from the 80’s such as “Footloose”, and “Rad” with their often over the top sendups.

While there are stretches of the film that seem to be going nowhere, the film cleverly will turn on a dime and go off in new tangents often with hysterical results which is the strength of the film. Many times I found myself watching the film thinking segments were really out there or dumb, only to erupt in laughter when the scenes played out to their conclusions.

The biggest weakness of the film is that like many other films that star Saturday Night Live cast members, some of the jokes hit and some miss, especially when sketch length bits are carried out over 90 minutes.

While the film was designed to pay homage to past films, it works suprisingly well as not only a pop culture satire, but as a physical comedy. With fine supporting work by Sissy Spacek and Jorma Taccone, “Hot Rod” rises above its stupid comedy origins and creates a fresh, if silly offering that will leave you laughing.

3.5 stars out of 5


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