Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What's your problem? Go see HOT ROD!!!

OK. What's the problem here, yo?
Why the heck aren't you people out there seeing Hot Rod? It's not only one of the funniest movies I've seen all year, it's one of the funniest movies I've seen in ages.
Utterly without irony, Hot Rod wallows in the glorious trash of the 80s, from re-creating the "I'm so angry I could DANCE!" sequence from Footloose to dressing up the Queens of the Stone Age in full 80s regalia for the climax.
And yet, it's more than that. It's a loving send-up of those inspirational sports movies. And a family comedy. And it's got real, actual pathos and humanity (courtesy of the mighty Ian McShane and the always-spectacular Sissy Spacek).
The movie opened a dismal 9th. After Transformers, which opened a month ago. Freakin' Underdog beat it. Seriously, what's wrong with the world?
The film is directed by Akiva Schaffer of the Lonely Island team (the folks who brought us "Dick in a Box" and "Lazy Monday") and written by supergenius Pam Brady (South Park, Team America: World Police, Kid Notorious, Mr Wong). If that's not pedigree enough for ya, it was originally supposed to star Will Ferrell. You know, that really funny guy from Anchorman and Talladega Nights? He ended up serving as executive producer when it became apparent that he was too old and fat to play Rod Kimble.
Instead, they got Lonely Island (and now SNL)'s Andy Samberg to play the title role. And while they lucked out in not getting a fat, overrated blowhard like that Ferrell guy to be in it (he's sunk so low since not getting the Rod role that he's doing internet videos with Adam McKay's kid), it's the supporting cast that shines in Hot Rod.

Isla Fisher is so damn adorable in this movie. She's pure and sweet and wholesome without ever once getting annoying or remotely near anything like the manure the Disney channel shovels into American households each day. I feel bad that the first thing I really noticed her in was The Wedding Crashers, because she's got skills. I watched The Lookout this weekend and loved her in that, too. She's great in everything. And she's bearing Ali G's child. Need I say more about her greatness?

That's Bill Hader, Jorma Taccone, Samberg and Danny R McBride as the stunt team. Samberg's lucky to be surrounded with guys like that. They're all ace comedic actors, and their total lack of fear and ego made each of their characters all the more real. Each of them is given a chance to shine, and they more than rise to the occasion. Bill Hader is gonna be a household name soon enough, with his performance in Superbad looming on the horizon. In this film, he's a gloriously dumb freak with a mullet and a job at the local ice rink. He's Rod's mechanic and...when things are at their lowest for Rod, he provides the voice of reason that only a guy tripping balls with a piece of metal stuck in his head can provide. Jorma Taccone's Kevin is the moral rock of the team, even if he'd rather be serenading his stuffed animals with George Michael songs. And Danny R McBride's Rico dishes out one of the best beatdowns on screen this year, whupping Ken Kirzinger's keister with a road cone in a green tea-fueled rage.
It's dumb, yes. Completely dumb. But, that didn't stop Napoleon Dynamite from becoming a cultural phenomenon. And this is a better film. It's funnier, it has better performances, and it's got a heart three times bigger than the Grinch's after he gets to the top of the mountain (and I ain't talkin' bout no crappy Jim Carrey Grinch, either).
And yet...you people still haven't seen it.

Why? What's wrong with Hot Rod? He didn't rape your childhoods. He never touched your girlfriend in her bikini area. And he's certainly a courteous houseguest when he stops over (unless he's with his dad -- in which case, move the lamps).
Why no love for Hot Rod??? I'm not the only person who's noticed. Ben Lyons over at E!online has wondered exactly why this film hasn't caught on. Sure, it's bound to be a cult hit. And sure it's going to spawn at least four careers (five if Chester Tam gets the notice he deserves for the absolutely hilarious Richardson).
Five years from now, very few of us will be able to say we saw Hot Rod when it first opened. Rest assured, other people will try, but they'll be fronting. A $5 million opening for a wide-release picture is kinda pitiful. And that means it doesn't have long before it hits second run and DVD, where I assure you it will become a classic.
At least Roger Ebert gets it. But with a dearth of bad reviews (check out MetaCritic or Rotten Tomatoes to see how ugly it's gotten), people aren't exactly flocking to the theaters.
Do you REALLY want to be one of the late-comers to the party? Or would you rather be a pioneer? Get your butt in the theater and see it. And listen to this on the way...

For more information about Hot Rod (or to buy a SWEET Team Rod t-shirt), visit Stuntman Forever or the official site

Oh, and PS...I love Will Ferrell. I was just poking fun.

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