Hot Rod (2007) — Wannabe stuntman hilariously fails at life

“I used to be legit. I was too legit. I was too legit to quit. but now I’m not legit. I’m unlegit. And for that reason, I must quit.”

Justin’s rating: Rock the night!

Justin’s review: Have you ever had a dream that you were utterly incapable of fulfilling? For me it was probably a childhood dream of being an astronaut, which stemmed from my viewing of the “Nothing Can Go Wrong” recruitment flick, SpaceCamp. I mean, if all it took to get me into space was to befriend a wonky robot who would then literally interpret my offhand wish for spaceborn capacity and sling me into the wild black yonder with only a plastic bag full of air to keep me alive, then how could it not work?

For Rod (Andy Samberg), his dream is to become the world’s best daredevil stuntman, a la Evel Knievel. This is slightly hampered by the fact that his unbounding optimism always ends in horrific disaster. It takes a special sort of man to try to jump a mail truck using a rickety ramp built by your inebriated friends; it takes a specialer man to get up after the crash and declare it a near-success.

Hot Rod chronicles the life and times of this delusional stuntman, his piddly moped and his support team, as they face the ultimate challenge: to jump 15 school buses — one more than Knievel. Other than a place in the history books, what would compel a man to do such a foolish stunt? Follow me here: Rod desperately wants the love and respect of his stepfather Frank, who will only give it if Rod bests him in hand-to-hand combat. Thus far, Rod has (as with everything else) failed to do so, and when Frank’s heart starts to go out, Rod realizes that the only way he can get said respect is to raise $50,000 for a heart transplant. So that, once his stepfather is healthy, Rod can then beat him up.

Yes, if you like “weird” with your “abstract,” “marshmallows” with your “chicken burger,” or “Isla” with your “Fisher,” then Hot Rod has a full meal of esoteric delights for your dining pleasure. This movie embraces the spirit of ’80s screwball comedies, with a synth soundtrack to carry you away to excess. From Footloose-inspired dancing in the woods to a rousing parade that quickly degenerates into a riot, Hot Rod is that funny little kid in school nobody really wanted to be around, but they’d then surprise you by saying or doing something so hilarious that it quickly goes down as legend.

It’s not a perfect comedy, but the overall quality really defies the bad reviews and box office it received. Samberg is a decent enough fellow, but remains a bit too bland for a leading character — I kept thinking that if Adam Sandler had taken this role, this film would’ve topped $200 million easy and Satan would have yet another reason to party.

Hot Rod’s quickly grown on me as one of my all-time favorite comedies that’s far more than the sum of its oddly parts. Do I have to beg you to give it a try? Fine. This is me, on my knees, ready to punch you in the beanbag if you say anything. Please see this film!

Cool beans? Yeah, cool beans.

Didja notice?

  • That’s one honky fake moustache
  • Always reinforce the takeoff ramp
  • Everyone should call themselves Voltron
  • Is there a good reason a pommel horse is in the middle of the forest?
  • Punch dancing!
  • Music montage! Of course!
  • Tai Chi can make you crap your pants
  • Coooool Beans!
  • How most riots get started: bagpipes
  • That guy… really likes dancing

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