Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. There are a number of guys who are just starting to emerge into a sort of cult stardom thanks to the current incarnation of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, and Andy Samberg is definitely one of them. These reviews make this sounds promising. It also reminds me of a great, crazy, fucked-up little New Zealand comedy I just saw called THE DEVIL DARED ME TO, which is playing at SXSW later this week. It’s a celebration of the stupidity of the daredevil profession, and it’s early-Peter-Jackson-gory. Is HOT ROD Samberg’s chance at bigscreen success? Let’s see what the first of our spies had to say:
HOT ROD Hey, it's cakebite again - Last night I checked out a screening of the Lonely Island crew's first feature film "Hot Rod". For most that don't know, the Lonely Island was a three-person So Cal comedy group that a few years ago was quite active in a thing Dan Harmon & Rob Schrab (Monster House) put together called "Channel 101". To try to sum up 101, it's a contest held monthly at a Hollywood bar where people compete to keep their fake tv show shorts 'on the air'. This contest has since turned into a national television event with a new VH1 show called " Acceptable.TV". But anyway, most will know the star of this film as 'the new dude from SNL, Andy Samberg'. Andy Samberg exploded (thanks to the internet) from a clever SNL aired digital short "Lazy Sunday", that based a seemingly tough rap song on the Chronicles of Narnia. Before joining SNL Samberg was a stage manager on Arrested Development, and now in his major film debut stars opposite "Job" (Will Arnett). Current SNL cast members Bill Hader and Chris Parnell make appearances (did I note that this is a Lorne Micheals produced picture?). Isla Fisher (the Wedding Crashers) plays Samberg's love interest, and Will Arnet's girlfriend. Yeah, so to get to the story - IMDB lists the film's plot outline as "An accident-prone daredevil (Samberg) plans to jump the Snake River on a moped in order to win over his stepfather" which is not completely accurate. Samberg, playing stuntman "Rod" (hence the title, "Hot Rod"), who needs to raise $50k to get his step-dad a heart transplant, to do so he plans the biggest stunt of his life, jumping 15 school busses. Rod's half-brother, played by Lonely Island member and SNL writer, Jorma Taccone, is part of Rod's stunt crew. He video tapes Rod's stunts and attempts to turn Rod into a movie star, but after it gets big laughs at a screening it becomes news to Rod that he's a pretty shitty stunt man. Following in his dad's stunt man footsteps, he doesn't give up... until predictable plot points come into play. There isn't a great deal of suspense in the unfolding of story, but the target audience is watching for the jokes. The film has absurdist humor, similar to what you'd see in Wet Hot American Summer or Napoleon Dynamite. I specifically name these two movies because they're also both rich in 80's parody, and Hot Rod doesn't stop with cheesy 80's songs, clothing and dance numbers. This might have been the movie's greatest drawback for me. I feel like we've seen enough jokes about how ugly the 80s was, it's time to move on. The acting is purposefully childish and the stunts are Jackass-like cringe worthy. There's possibly the longest falling down a mountain scene to ever hit the big screen. However, I wouldn't be surprised if this gets a PG-13 rating. There isn't much swearing, sex, or excessive crude humor. The Lonely Island dudes got passed over three times with different television pilots, but thier unique-humored digital shorts on SNL are growng in populairty, so I'm curious of what the general public thinks when they see the cast list for the film. For me it was fun to see Akiva Schaffer (Lonely Island member, SNL writer and this film's director) make a tiny cameo, Samberg give a inside-joke nod to his old Channel 101 show "the BU" by coughing "Hoobastank", and what I think, Chester "Chez" Tam (another sort of Lonely crew dude) stealing the show with his patented dick-thrust dancing. Worst case scenario, here's a future cult comedy DVD worthy to add to your collection.
Here’s the other review, from a reader who actually attended with Cakebite:
Hi Kids! My colleague, Cakebite and I just got back from a "Hot Rod" test screening in Sherman Oaks, CA. SNL and The Boo's, Andy Samberg stars as Rod, a wanna-be stunt biker who plans to jump 15 school buses in an effort to raise money for his step father's heart transplant. (IMDB has to change the plot description on their site) If fans of Channel101.com ever wondered what a prime time show would be like in feature length, they shall wonder no more. "Hot Rod" takes full advantage of Adam Sandler's lost nut sack in the absurd humor department. The film is packed with instant-classic moments that had the theatre uproar in laughter. It's absurd traits come into play many times. During an emotionally involved scene, audience members had an opportunity to turn to the person next to them and say, "What the Fuck? Did I just see Ebenezer Scrooge offering a cooked goose from a school bus?" Samberg's character, Rod is the Super Dave of the new millennium. His jackass-style slapstick got a huge rise out of the audience. Although Rod is the main focus, this film is really held together by the impressive supporting cast. Rod's hometown cronies, aka his professional stunt crew, were fan favorites. Everyone has at least two friends that have nothing better to do than hang out front their parents' garage, drinking beer, and lighting off unimpressive fireworks. Bill Hader and Danny Mcbride ARE these guys. Rod's geeky, kid pajama wearing younger brother is played by "Hot Rod's Man Behind the Curtain", Jorma Taccone. Jorma plays the straight man opposite Samberg and reminded me a bit of Elias from Clerks 2. I suspect we'll see a lot more mainstream, on-camera action from this guy in the future. Hot Hot Hot, Isla Fisher plays Samberg's neighbor, friend, and unavailable love interest. They seem to have a "Peter Parker/Mary Jane in Spider Man 1" sort of relationship. She sees something special in Samberg's character, but is caught up dating Arrested Development's, Will Arnett. Arnett perfectly portrays the biggest dick head to ever emerge from the pits of a law school fraternity. I went to college in Long Island, New York and have come face to face with thousands of these fucking assholes. I can sadly say that the most real character in the film IS Arnett's. Surprisingly, Ian McShane took a massive, very involved role in the film as Rod's step dad. Also co-starring is Sissy Spacek, Chester Tam, and Dr. Spaceman himself, Chris Parnell. There was only one scene in the film that I felt wasn't necessary to the plot and brought a running joke to the edge of "tired" involving Samberg and McShane getting into a brawl at the dinner table. Other than that, the film is basically ready for color correcting. I wish I could talk about the bits and sequences that really make "Hot Rod" a stand-out comedy, but I would totally ruin the movie. Producer, Lorne Michaels was in attendance to witness the great crowd response. If he and the suits don't feel this movie deserves wide release, I'm going to kick his ass all over 30 Rock! - Adam Paranoia