I think there is an easy explanation to why I didn't fully enjoy "Hot Rod"; because despite a few funny references, it's stupid as hell. It's also devoid of any filmmaking talent that would have made it particularly worthwhile, and it's just not funny. That's not to say that it sucks as a movie; I mean, it really isn't THAT bad. But when you think your film is a real knee-slapper and all you can conjure up are the most random jokes since "Napoleon Dynamite", you're in deep trouble my friend. I'm surprised that despite its almost consistent ability to lack any sort of entertainment, I still can't find myself writing the thing off completely. It gets a bit better as it goes on, but not by much. It's a purposely clichéd sort of ride, but it's one that wants to be so hilariously generic that it is-dare I say-funny. And if THIS is the filmmakers' idea of funny, then to hell with whatever ideas he may have. "Hot Rod" just isn't funny enough. It is done in the tradition of intended stupidity such as "Napoleon Dynamite". It's so random that it wants us to laugh at it, and it tries really hard too. In fact, it tries so hard that you kind of feel bad for it when it fails. It is because of its unfailing ability to fail that I don't like these films. I'm not picking on "Hot Rod" specifically, but films like this should not be able to fool people so easily. They simply don't need to exist. I mean...why do they? Is this what entertainment is nowadays? Since when is the line between pure boredom and mild entertainment considered thoroughly amusing? A lot of things about today's standards puzzle me, and "Hot Rod" is caught in the particularly generic drift of forgettable, disposable, and mostly boring comedies. You may criticize me since everything I disliked about it was purely intentional, but consider this: it was supposed to be the kind of silliness that is entertaining. Not just random and all-out stupid. There's got to be more to it than unfunny puns and super-obvious one-liners. It's stupid; it's forgettable, although it's not unwatchable. If you like films in the tradition of "Napoleon Dynamite", then by all means see "Hot Rod". I mean, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else, but if you will, then what the hell: just watch the damn thing. But only if you have a lot of time to waste. Anyways, I'm sure there are many better films out there worthy of your 90 minutes. And the best part is that you don't have to look too hard to find the point of interest that you're looking for.
Rod Kimble is a dreamer. He has two big ambitions. One of them is mastering the art of the stuntman, and to follow in his father's footsteps by doing so. The other goal he has is to earn his "new" father's respect by beating him in hand-to-hand combat. So to build some character for Rod, we are treated to several scenes in which the character ambushes his father and fails at simplistic stunts. This comes to show how pretentious but ambitious he is. Not that we're supposed to be taking any of it seriously, since it's all played out for "laughs". The rest of the film involves Rod embarking on a quest to earn money for his father's less-than-recent problem with a heart transplant. He gets the proceeds through stunts and showing his exploits to the local townsfolk as well as the rest of the world (via Internet). I do like how the film intends to tell the comedic story of a dreamer, although I also don't like how it failed to stay focused on one thing at a time. Did "Hot Rod" want to be funny, or did it also want to be touching? I think it wanted to be funny among other things, since anything moderately sentimental seems to be on the verge of being darkly "funny". All in all, "Hot Rod" does indeed tell a flawed-as-hell story. It never quite realizes that it has a plot, and that it should get stuff moving, better soon than later. Maybe if "Hot Rod" was more self-aware, then maybe it would have been entertaining. But since it's not really funny, amusing, nor engaging, it's left to decay with all of the other pathetic, nearly joyless comedies. It's somewhat of a shame.
I like the casting set-up that this film has going. In the starring role is Any Samberg of SNL fame, doing what he does best; trying to be funny. In all honesty, I don't think that anybody from the new era of SNL is funny, least of all Andy Samberg. There just doesn't seem to be enough inspiration or humor in Samberg's performance, and most of the time it comes off more as an unfunny, pretentious mess that somehow fits in well with the movie since the film itself is also a tad uneven. Samberg's co-stars include Jorma Taccone (who just recently helmed "MacGruber"), Bill Hader, and Danny R. McBride (of "Pineapple Express" fame). There's also a fairly decent performance from Ian McShane, who is always somewhat dependable when it comes to essential decency. And then there's a love interest played by Isla Fisher, and a sleazy horn dog played by Will Arnet. And did I mention a performance by Sissy Spacek? Overall, not a lot of the performances have much inspiration in them. There's just not a whole lot of worthwhile substance, and that's the icing on the cake when it comes to the many flaws of "Hot Rod".
"Hot Rod" is of course a comedy. But not just any kind of comedy. It's a "dumb" comedy. We don't really get these films every day, but with movies like this, that's probably a particularly good thing. Much like Samberg and the rest of the "Hot Rod" crew, the film seems to have been pulled straight from SNL itself. There seems to be some Saturday Night Live-type inspiration going on here, although considering the current state of the show, that is certainly not a good thing. On the bright side, there was some decent style to "Hot Rod". The soundtrack seems to fit in well with what the film wants to be, although the same does not go for the other half of the stylistic elements. The humor just doesn't appeal to me. None of it is really that funny. However, there was one moment that I admired a lot, and that was the "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" reference that I caught, which is probably why I laughed so much at it. But that was essentially it. The rest of the jokes are tired, repetitive, and unfunny. They're far to obvious for me to think about them and finally conclude that they're funny. I get the point of "Hot Rod", although it needs to learn that a lack of direction only appeals to a select few. It's a shame that I couldn't be one of those few people. But I didn't expect to praise it a whole lot, but hey: it was not quite as bad as I expected. After all, it's watchable. But it's not entertaining. All in all, I have seen yet another disappointing and bland work of pure mediocrity.
This just isn't my kind of film, as you can see. I do respect those who admire it, although I can't imagine that many truly love it. I found it to be extremely forgettable since seldom is it truly clever, and while it tries to conform less than most comedies, it remains fairly generic and overall quite boring. It's a sad day when films such as these just can't earn their stripes, but it has indeed happened again. I do hope that the filmmakers don't try this again, and that the actors go on to do something(s) more worthy of their talents. But that all depends on which actor I am speaking of, since a couple have potential while others I just flat-out don't like. So if you are like me, then I won't recommend this film. But if you are a fan of raw stupidity, then this is your dream come true. "Hot Rod" comes quite close to being "masterful" silliness, although alas this is a very hard thing to master without having a few good flaws. The problem here is that "Hot Rod" has one too many flaws, and thus that renders it essentially useless. However, it might be a decent film if you are very drunk. You know what...that's probably the best way to experience the thing for what it is or what it wants to be. Otherwise, it's quite a bore, and not fashionably either. Damn it, Hollywood!