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  Hot Rod You'll Believe A Man Can Crash
Year: 2007
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Stars: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Isla Fisher, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane, Will Arnett, Chris Parnell, Chester Tam, Mark Acheson, Brittany Tiplady, Ken Kirzinger, Brittney Irvin, Alana Husband, Andrew Moxham
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) is a complicated man: a complicated stuntman, in fact. Not that anyone employs him to perform his dangerous exploits, he's strictly amateur, but is inspired by two things: his late father and his still living stepfather (Ian McShane). The deceased parent, he has grown up being told by his mother (Sissy Spacek), was an expert daredevil motorbike rider who died risking his life for his occupation while his boss Evel Knievel seized all the glory. His stepdad is obsessed with proving how much tougher than Rod he is, so that he will always be under his thumb while the older man can beat him up. But then, a drawback looms...

That drawback being that maybe his stepdad won't be around for much longer as he has a serious heart condition that would take fifty thousand dollars to solve with a transplant. Rod cannot face the idea of never besting him in a physical confrontation, so makes up his mind to save the man's life so that Rod can kick the shit out of him and hear what he always wanted, that he is truly a man. As you might have guessed from that summary, this is a movie which takes as its target the macho bullshit that the modern male has to deal with while using these characters who are unaware of just how idiotically they are behaving for their petty point scoring.

Yet the point-scoring that they indulge in is raised to ridiculous heights of dedication when the title stuntman assembles his team and sets about arranging the ultimate stunt. That being, he will jump over fifteen school buses - not fourteen like Evel Knievel tried, so the record will be smashed should Rod succeed, and all for the charitable effort of getting McShane's cheerfully ungrateful patient, now at death's door, a new heart. This was scripted for Will Ferrell by South Park producer Pam Brady, but was actually picked as the ideal way to introduce the Lonely Island comedy troupe to the big screen, and they worked their magic with the screenplay in the way that they had done with their internet sensation videos.

Or that was the idea, but as it turned out what people watch for free on the internet, or on Saturday Night Live for that matter, as that is where the trio ended up, is not the same as shelling out for a movie ticket or DVD rental. However, it may not have been a runaway success financially, but it did begin to pick up a cult following who responded to its relentlessly daft succession of humorous moments, with comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite being frequently drawn. Actually, not only does it have better gags than that film, it owes just as much to the Jackass school of comedy what with the stunts that Rod indulges in seeing him doubled up in pain more often than not.

Plus there's a sense that the Lonely Island team are far from scathing about the losers they are bringing to the fore, as if they were daffy pets who in spite of making mayhem are still worthy of affection because they can't conceive of how stupidly and inappropriately they are behaving. So much so that Rod gains love interest of the calibre of Isla Fisher, whose character Denise was a childhood friend of his and wants to hang out with him even though she has a boyfriend (played by Will Arnett, so we can see how that will work out). If you can believe that, then you can accept that maybe Rod can succeed in his endeavours, though not exactly in the manner that he and his team expects. The name of this game is keep it silly, so there may be a message of precisely how moronic men can be in their drive to prove themselves, but it secretly admires those who go to those ludicrous lengths. There's a lot to like here. Music by Trevor Rabin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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