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Akiva Schaffer
Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader, Danny R. McBride, Isla Fisher, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane, Will Arnett
Writing Credits:
Pam Brady

Smack destiny in the face.

Amateur stuntman Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) has a problem - his step-father Frank (Ian McShane) is a jerk. Frank picks on Rod, tosses him around like a rag doll in their weekly sparring sessions, and definitely doesn't respect him, much less his stunts. But when Frank falls ill, it's up to Rod to stage the jump of his life in order to save his step-father. The plan: Jump 15 buses, raise the money for Frank's heart operation, and then ... kick his ass.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$5.310 million on 2607 screens.
Domestic Gross
$13.920 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 11/27/2007

• Audio Commentary with Director Akiva Schaffer and Actors Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone
• “Ancestors Protect Me: Behind the Scenes of Hot Rod” Featurette
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Outtakes Reel
• “Kevin’s Videos”
• “Punch-Dance”
• “Home Video Footage of Orchestra Recording Session”
• Trailer
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Hot Rod (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 26, 2007)

Looking for the next Saturday Night Live cast member to break out as a movie star? Keep looking, for he doesn’t materialize in 2007’s Hot Rod. Andy Samberg tried to become the next Will Ferrell but doesn’t succeed, as Rod made a Chris Kattan-esque $13 million. Ouch! Of course, this doesn’t mean Samberg has no future in Hollywood – it took Farrell a few tries before he landed a hit – but it’s certainly not an impressive start.

Samberg plays Rod Kimble, an aspiring stuntman who hopes to live up to his dead dad’s legacy. His stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) forces him to fight to earn his respect. Rod consistently gets his butt kicked by Frank, but he continues to hope for the best. Rod also has a crush on neighbor Denise (Isla Fisher) but he can’t get up the nerve to do anything about it.

Frank suffers from a heart attack and will die if he doesn’t get a transplant. However, insurance won’t cover the expensive operation, so Frank looks doomed. Rod decides to make a massive daredevil jump to raise the $50,000 and save Frank’s life – so he can finally kick his butt. The movie follows Rod’s efforts as well as subplots like his attempted wooing of Denise.

Earlier I made allusions to Will Ferrell, and these fit for a variety of reasons. Not only does Ferrell act as an executive producer for the flick, but also the film shows his influence in terms of comedic style and characters. The whole thing has a very Ferrell feel about it, but without Will himself on display, it doesn’t succeed.

Best known for the “Dick in a Box” song spoof with Justin Timberlake, I honestly don’t know Samberg’s work well enough to say if he has much talent. I thought “Box” was pretty lame and not worth all the attention it got, but since I’ve not watched much SNL over the last decade or so, I can’t judge Samberg’s overall work.

I can say that he doesn’t do much to impress in Rod. Again, the whole “Ferrell lite” side of things causes problems. With a character so clearly in the Ferrell vein, we judge the movie more on how Samberg compares to him than we do on its own merits. Too much of the film reminds us of Ferrell, so Samberg never creates an identity of his own.

And when Rod doesn’t come across like a Ferrell clone, it demonstrates a clear Napoleon Dynamite influence. The flick comes with much of that film’s geeky quirkiness. Indeed, the whole premise feels like a rip-off of the stunt scene in Dynamite. It’s like those behind Rod saw that sequence and decided to make a whole movie based on it.

In addition to its lack of creative inspiration, Rod flops because it doesn’t deliver a very well-made film. In particular, the editing seems dreadful. Scenes connect in a choppy manner that often renders them barely coherent, and the program proceeds at an awkward pace. A lot of odd cuts occur that make us wonder why they were timed that way and where the filmmakers wanted us to go; more than a few times I wondered why they cut to a particular character. Too much of the product failed to make much sense.

I also don’t care for the frequent use of hand-held camerawork. A lot of the movie uses that style, and it does nothing more than distract. I can understand heavy hand-held for documentary-style films like United 93 but why does a broad comedy such as this need that treatment? It simply distracts and becomes a nuisance.

Not that a better-made version of Hot Rod would’ve been particularly good. Really, there’s not much here to endorse. A few chuckles come along the way, and unlike the dreadful Dynamite, I can’t say that I actively dislike Rod. It’s just nothing memorable or particularly entertaining.

Footnote: stay until the finish of the end credits for a little tag. It’s not very interesting, but it’s there!

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Hot Rod appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie boasted a consistently strong transfer.

Sharpness always looked good. Even in wide shots, the flick displayed solid delineation and accuracy. No problems with softness marred this concise presentation. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I also noticed no edge enhancement. Source flaws remained absent in this clean image.

Rod went with a natural palette that fared well. The colors were clear and vivid at all times, as the tones showed nice reproduction. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows demonstrated fine delineation. Overall, the transfer was very pleasing.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Hot Rod, it seemed pretty lackluster. There wasn’t much to the soundfield. Some of the stunts opened things up reasonably well – such as when Rod got blasted off a tower – but usually the audio remained restrained. Music showed decent stereo delineation, and effects displayed a reasonable sense of setting. The surrounds reinforced these elements and added decent life to some of the action sequences, but the back speakers stayed subdued most of the time.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, with no edginess or other issues. Music appeared a little restricted but usually offered decent clarity. Effects fell into the same realm, as they were clean and accurate but lacked much of a punch. All of this was good enough for a “B-“, but don’t expect to be impressed.

The disc comes with a decent complement of supplements. We find an audio commentary from director Akiva Schaffer and actors Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss some production details, but usually they prefer just to kid around with each other and mock the whole process.

Even when we hear notes about the production – usually from Schaffer – it becomes tough to care. For one, the guys throw out enough “fake facts” that it gets difficult to know the lies from the truth. Even the film observations that occur tend to be banal, so that turns into another obstacle.

However, the tone remains the biggest weakness of this track. It often feels like 90 minutes of sarcasm and inside jokes. If you dig the humor of Hot Rod, you’ll probably have a blast with the commentary; you’ll likely think the participants’ wacky shenanigans are a hoot. If you’re not totally enamored with the flick, though, it becomes a real chore to listen to this tedious piece.

A featurette called Ancestors Protect Me: Behind the Scenes of Hot Rod runs seven minutes, 57 seconds as it mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from Samberg, Schaffer, Taccone, and actors Isla Fisher and Bill Hader. “Ancestors” bears a strong resemblance to the commentary in that it mostly consists of wisecracks and insults. What do we learn from this piece? That Samberg thinks it’s hilarious to constantly tell people on the set to “lose the shirt” and that Taccone loves to run around bottomless. This featurette may be more annoying and pointless than the commentary, though at least it’s shorter.

15 Deleted and Extended Scenes last a total of 14 minutes, 39 seconds. These include “Opening Credits Biker” (0:38), “Rod Shuts Front Door on Kevin” (1:19), “Rod Meets Denise” (0:44), “Rod and the Lamps” (0:41), “Rico High Fives” (0:23), “Rico and Dave Converse” (0:55), “Kevin and Rico Shotgun Beers” (1:24), “Family Dinner” (1:04), “Playing with Toys” (2:12), “Double Date” (0:52), “Rod and Kevin at the Screening” (0:35), “Rod Impresses Goth Kids” (1:00), “Rico Hits on a Lady” (0:51), “Barry Pasternack” (1:01) and “Kevin Sings Karaoke” (0:58). We get material very similar to the footage in the final flick, so if the film amused you, I expect you’ll enjoy these clips. If not, it seems unlikely anything here will change your mind – it didn’t have a positive effect on me.

We can watch these scenes with or without commentary from Schaffer, Samberg and Taccone. When I listen to this sort of discussion, I mostly want to learn why the clips didn't make the final cut. Schaffer alludes to this on occasion, but the guys usually just giggle and talk about how much they like the sequences. The commentary isn’t as joke-heavy as the main track, but it doesn’t add much.

An Outtakes Reel goes for three minutes, 32 seconds. I figured this would be a blooper collection, but it actually lives up to its title and provides little snippets too short to be considered deleted scenes. Whether they’re amusing will be up to you to decide, of course, but I was happy I didn’t have to sit through the usual goofs.

Kevin’s Videos splits into eight short clips. All together, they go for a total of four minutes, 23 seconds. These let us see the Rod videos created for the film in their entirety. That makes them a neat little extra.

Next comes the one-minute and 58-second Punch-Dance. It gives us comments from Samberg and shows a side-by-side comparison between that Rod sequence and the Footloose scene that inspired it. This may not sound like much, but it might actually be the coolest extra on the DVD.

After this we find Home Video Footage of Orchestra Recording Session. The one-minute and 28-second snippet depicts what the title implies: shots of an orchestra as they record the movie’s score. It comes without any comments or information, which makes it pretty pointless.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Drillbit Taylor and Stardust. These also appear in the Previews area along with a clip for The Will Ferrell Collection. In addition, the DVD includes the theatrical trailer for Rod.

Will Ferrell movies can be hit or miss, so a Will Ferrell movie that stars someone else becomes an even iffier prospect. Andy Samberg does his best Ferrell impersonation and flops miserably in Hot Rod, a comedy with nary a laugh to be found. The DVD offers excellent visuals along with decent audio and extras. This is a more than competent disc, but the movie itself stinks.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5909 Stars Number of Votes: 22
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