out of Five
Running time: 88
Dumb comedy in the Napoleon Dynamite mould with a better-than-average gag rate.
What's it all about?
Andy Samberg stars as rubbish wannabe stuntman Rod Kimble, who lives at home with his loving mother (Sissy Spacek) and his nerdy stepbrother (Jorma Taccone), while doing stunts on his moped and trying to earn the respect of his stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) by besting him in one of their daily smackdowns.
When Frank gets sick and needs a $50,000 operation, Rod vows to raise the money by undertaking his biggest stunt ever, just so that he can finally achieve his dream of beating Frank in a punch-up. Meanwhile, Rod's friends (Bill Hader and Danny McBride) join forces with the cute girl next door (Isla Fisher) to help Rod train for the death-defying stunt.
The influence of Napoleon Dynamite can clearly be seen in Samberg's character – Rod is permanently grumpy and convinced of his own awesomeness, despite all evidence to the contrary. As Saturday Night Live actors go, Samberg is a long way from being the next Will Ferrell but he plays the part well and has a nice line in sulky tantrums.
The supporting cast are extremely good, though you have to wonder what Sissy Spacek saw in the script that made her say yes. Isla Fisher does her usual cute-girl-next-door routine and Hader and McBride make a good comic team, but it's Ian McShane who steals the show – the no-holds-barred fight scenes between Frank and Rod are the funniest scenes in the film.
Your enjoyment of Hot Rod will very much depend on your tolerance for stupid humour and it goes without saying that several of the jokes fall very flat indeed. That said, you may be surprised to find yourself repeating some of the lines even after you've forgotten the rest of the film.
If you like dumb comedies, then Hot Rod provides enough stupid laughs to make it worthwhile.