How do you become a man? Grow a moustache, fight your step dad, perform awesome stunts? No. You persevere with your ‘wh’ild imagination and dreams of becoming a stuntman.
Hot Rod is one of the funniest original comedies you’ll see for a long time. A statement that would have been true had I said it in 2007, but I’m saying it now and I stand by it. Andy Samberg leads the frontline, in his debut feature role, in this irreverent tale as self-proclaimed amateur stuntman Rod Kimble. His stuntman skills are much to be desired and although his stunts are at the crux of the film Hot Rod essentially boils down to an unconventional take on the independent coming of age sub-genre but with a studio budget.
Unerringly enthusiastic in his quest to achieve stuntman greatness on par with his father’s legacy Rod’s dreams are shattered by the news of his stepfather’s deteriorating heart condition. But, Hot Rod never dwells on a serious note, not because it can’t handle it but because plenty of other films have done it before and to be honest it gets a bit boring. Independent films can stand out like a sore thumb for their overuse of reflective pauses and moments of personal contemplation. Akiva Schaffer takes this dynamic, gallops into a wooded glen and punch dances out his rage at traditional conventions, laughing all the way.
Rod’s relationship with his stepfather, Frank, played by Ian McShane, is established at the start of the film with Rod vying for respect, a battle, a desire to punch him in the face. Rod doesn’t do himself any favours in his quest for respect though. His stunts get progressively more ambitious, more embarassing and inevitably destined to fail. With a redirection of responsibilities Rod sets out to raise the required $50,000 for Frank’s “conveniently priced” heart surgery. The tales and tribulations of Rod Kimble’s journey are perfectly sewn together with as many stand-out moments as a George Lucas epic, a Will Ferrel marathon, or 1980s pop culture almanac, delivering some of the funniest scenes in recent comedy.
With Akiva Schaffer at the helm, the ‘The Lonely Island’ trio take a step away from their usual short films but retain their talent for absurdist comedy. Enlisting a strong cast consisting of comedy bigwigs Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Will Arnett and Chris Parnell, with Isla Fisher rounding things out nicely Hot Rod promises ‘wh’imsical comedy throughout and delivers on that promise.
There aren’t many films that end with a slugging match between an adolescent coming of age self-proclaimed stuntman and his post-heart surgery stepfather. But that’s what makes Hot Rod stand-out. It’s ability to deliver line after line of comedy gold compels any fan to revisit their favourite moments over and over again, sharing them with friends and extending the cult bandwagon with it’s head held high. A Brilliant comedy well worth a view if you’re in the mood for some outlandish humour that dances it’s way around common independent movie tropes with ease and establishes itself in the annals of cultdom.
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