Hot Rod – Blu-ray Review

Hot Rod had all the elements necessary to be a great dumb comedy. A clueless goofball wanting to be the next Evel Knievel just screams physical comedy goldmine. More than enough Saturday Night Live cast members had leading roles. Ian McShanes gruff Deadwood persona was perfect to antagonize the lead. They even were smart enough to hire Danny McBride before he became a mega-star this summer. This movie seems destined to jump 15 funnybones without a hitch.

Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) wants to follow in his late fathers footsteps. The old man tested all the stunts before Evel attempted them on ABCs Wideworld of Sports. Rods dad stepped out from the daredevils Wild Turkey soaked shadow, but his solo jump landed him in the grave. Rod dreams of living up to the legend of his old man. However budget restricts has him making jumps with a moped instead of a Harley. He has a semi-loyal support crew that build his ramps that includes Bill Hader (SNL), Jarma Taccone (writer on SNL) and Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder). Rod and his stepfather (McShane) enjoy streetfighting in the basement. However this has to stop when McShane needs a heart transplant. Rod wants to raise enough money for the operation by jumping 15 buses. This is one more than Evel. After the life saving surgery, Rod will finally kick McShanes ass.

Along the way to setting up this stunt spectacular, Rod falls for his darling neighbor (Wedding Crasherss Isla Fisher). Trouble is shes going out with Will Arnett (Arrested Development). How can Rod compete against the acid wit of Will? Can an amazing stunt win her heart while getting a new heart for his stepdad? What is the chance that hell survive leaping over 15 buses? What are the odds that even after 18 months, nobody has spoiled the ending of Hot Rod to you? The film imploded upon impact when it was released in the summer of 2007.

Why isnt Hod Rod that dumb movie that every junior executive quotes when the boss isnt around? How can it be a bigger letdown than when Evel didnt show up to jump the shark tank on his stunt spectacular? After sifting through the charred remains, the obvious suspects are Will Ferrell and Jackass. Hot Rod had been developed as a project for Ferrell. But he devoted his man-child routine to Step Brothers. Andy Samberg does his best to fill in for Will. He looks good in his patriotic jumpsuit. But his character doesnt pull off enough charm or goofiness to be forgiven for his violent fits. Hes not endearing. Hes purely annoying. When he nearly bankrupts the stunt fund after a tantrum, you want to see him crash and burn. Nobody feels any sympathy when he suffers at the hands of McShane. Theres no core to his character. Often he plays a moment as if he was impersonating Ferrell and not playing the character.

Jackass has rewritten the rules on what we expect from a movie promising stupid stunts. The Jackass guys pull their foolish stunts without as much fan fare as Evel once required. Watching stuntmen perform CGI assisted jumps and wrecks is disheartening. By locking down the cameras were given a perspective expected out of a Super Dave stunt. Its just too artificial What also hurts is that they dont give us numerous perspectives of the same stunt. Kids watch daredevil TV shows to see the few seconds of action replayed in slow motion from every angle. They refrain from repeating the big events even though too many scenes in Hot Rod come off as time killers. Why must we do the heavy work of hitting the rewind button on the remote? Didnt anyone associated with this production realize what didnt work in The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave movie?

Hot Rod cant be completely dismissed because McShane and McBride leap above the comic carnage. McShane looks gleeful when torturing Samberg. This must have been where he broke in his moves for Kung Fu Panda. McBride is perfect as the slack guy in charge of constructing Sambergs ramp. He also gets a sadistic kick watching the overeager Samberg bite asphalt and taking headers into solid objects. Hot Rod would have been twice the film if theyd just McShane and McBride dominate the action.

The video is 2:35:1 anamorphic. The HD 1080p transfer brings out the detail of the various jumps. The audio is English 5.1 TrueHD audio. The French and Spanish dub track is Dolby Digital 5.1. The sound allows you to get the full effect of Rods moped cranked all the way up. The subtitles are in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Commentary Track has Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone sharing stories from the set. Dont their names sound like they founded the band Hot Tuna? This trio comes off as little bit too insular for their own good.

Ancestors Protect Me: Behind the Scenes of Hot Rod (7:58) admits this was originally a Will Ferrell project. They had to dumb it down for Samberg. The director claims they took a really great script and “Samberged” it. It almost sounds like a truth disguised as a joke. They do show off some of the stunts. We learn the sad truth of Andys posse. Theres not enough Ian McShane and Danny McBride candid moments.

Home Video Footage of Orchestra Recording Session (1:28) shows the strings section at work. At least they can now show their kids what they do for a living.

Punch-Dance (1:58) gives Andys talk about his tribute to Kevin Bacon in Footloose. They even provide footage of the Bacon next to Andys movements. Still think theres a Gymkata vibe to the moment.

Kevins Videos (4:23) gives us the video footage that was being shown in the movie. You get to see what was done for Rods fundraising movie. This film would have been so much better if they had focused more on this Jackass style of filmmaking.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (14:40) has 16 snipped moments. Theres fun business with Rods moped trying to be as bad as Harley. Ian McShane announcing Rod doesnt have a penis would have been good for the film. Danny McBride is the big star here. They include plenty his improvs including how to shotgun a beer. Will Arnett gets points for bringing up Dorf on Golf.

Outtakes Reel (3:32) is a series of quick moments that didnt work too much including the directors cameo. The moped wrecking at the ice skating rink is painfully funny.

Theatrical Trailer (0:49) is really short for a trailer. Guess they didnt want to give away too much of the funny with a two minute trailer.

Hot Rod could have been a hilarious comedy about a daredevil in training. Andy Samberg misses the ramp and goes splat on too many stunts. The Blu-ray brings does let you enjoy the subtle comedy of Danny McBride. The bonus feature of McBride demonstrating how to shotgun a beer is educational for anyone over 21. Hot Rod is more entertaining than The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave.

Paramount Home Video presents Hot Rod. Directed by Akiva Schaffer. Starring Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane & Danny McBride. Written by Pam Brady. Running time: 87 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: December 16, 2008. Available at Amazon.

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