Starring: Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Bill Hader
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Running Time: 88 mins
Hot Rod is an American film about a young man with dreams of being a great stuntman who, despite never having landed a jump before, prepares for the stunt of a lifetime in jumping over fifteen school buses, all with the aim of raising money for his terminally ill abusive stepfather.
This film is juvenile, stupid, brash, predictable and painfully generic at times, and yet despite all that, it’s a strangely sweet and enjoyable watch. While Hot Rod doesn’t necessarily win points in the brains department, it impresses with entertaining humour, lovably weird characters and an oddly inspiring tale of reaching for the sky.
In that, the film has a perfect balance between stupid, braindead humour to enjoy with your brain turned all the way off, and genuinely enjoyable storytelling and characters. Its screenplay is hardly a masterpiece, and some characters are barely fleshed out, but that little bit of sweet-hearted emotion at its core makes a big difference.
The story of a bunch of lovable weirdos shirking the glares of society to achieve their dreams is nothing new, but Hot Rod manages to bring more than just ridiculous, laugh-out-loud comedy to the table, regularly taking a moment to step back and look at the characters, their motivations and their dreams.
Now, the film doesn’t manage to deliver particularly interesting character development for the majority of its leads, with the likes of Bill Hader and Danny McBride reduced to little more than durbrained sidekicks, and Isla Fisher forced to play a disappointingly simple-minded and uninteresting love interest. However, Andy Samberg’s character – Rod himself – is more than enough to make up for all of that.
With seemingly bizarre dreams of being a stuntman despite his total lack of success in the field, there’s something irresistibly lovable about Rod, and with Samberg’s delightfully weird charisma, as well as the character’s clearly good nature at heart, his story of following the wildest of dreams is an absolute delight to follow.
Couple that story with some good, silly comedy throughout, and you have a film that’s more than entertaining from beginning to end. It’s not the most intelligent or mature comedy you’ll ever see, and features often painfully predictable and cheesy storytelling, but it’s more than just a braindead late night comedy, impressing with suprisingly sweet and heartfelt character drama from time to time.
Hot Rod isn’t a perfect film, but if you want a good laugh and a good smile, then it’s just what you’re looking for. Easy-going, simple, but most of all genuine and lovable, it’s a surprisingly pleasant and enjoyable watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3 overall.