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Hot Rod Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Image"Hot Rod" is a movie that no one should try and analyze.  It is so downright dumb it is funny to the nth degree.  I thought "Super Troopers" was dumb, but this movie blows that one away.  The film pretty much bombed in the theaters.  It grossed less than $14 million and left theaters in less than 50 days.

The film does have a loyal following however.  The film is directed by Akiva Schaffer and stars Andy Samberg.  These two guys, along with fellow co-star Jorma Taccone) rose to fame after their "The Lonely Island" video spread like wildfire on the Internet.  It got them jobs with the popular late night show, Saturday Night Live.  Akiva is currently a writer for the show, while Samberg is an actor on the show.  If you have seen "The Lonely Island" then you will understand exactly what this film is all about.

"Hot Rod" embodies the spirit of silly humor to the perfect extent.  This film cannot be viewed like a normal movie.  You have to get past all your notions of cinematography, acting, and normal comedic banter.  "Hot Rod" takes it all to a new level, some for better and some for worse.

Andy Samberg stars a Rod Kimble, a kid in his mid-20s that still lives at home and dreams of being a famous stuntman, after his father.  Unfortunately, Rod is terrible, and just plain idiotic.  His step-brother, Kevin (Jorma Taccone) is his sidekick that also is a bit, ummm, odd.  The rest of Rod's crew consists of Dave the mechanic (Bill Hader), Rico the builder (Danny R. McBride), and the hot girl next door, Denise (Isla Fisher).

Every week Rod battles his step-father, Frank (Ian McShane), and always loses.  Frank eventually falls ill due to a failing heart, and Rod is determined to raise the $50,000 necessary for Frank to get a transplant (ummm, a heart transplant costs a bit more than $50,000).  Of course, Rod comes to this conclusion after punch-dancing out his rage out in the middle of a forest and taking a two-minute long fall down the mountain side. First, the team must raise $5,000 in order to pull off the ultimate stunt – jumping 15 busses.  The Rod Team begins to train Rod for the ultimate jump by doing the dumbest things like: holding his breath for 40 seconds and street luging.  Phase two is to raise the money by doing amateur stunts at birthday parties.  When he gets blown up off the tower, it is actually a good stunt, I didn't really think it belonged in the film.  Due to some unfortunate temper tantrums, the $5,000 raised most be given away to pay for a film projector through a car windshield.  Back to square one.

Luckily, an AM radio station steps in and helps setup for the jump.  I'm sure you all can guess where the film goes from here.

"Hot Rod" is absolutely terrific in its own way.  Just bare in mind that you have to be in the right mindset to watch this film.

Paramount previously released the film on HD DVD.  Unfortunately, the same transfer has been used here for the Blu-ray release.  However, the film has been encoded to a 1080p/VC-1 transfer, versus the HD DVD, which had an MPEG-4/AVC transfer.  Most of the image problems are due to the small budget for the film and how it was originally shot.  However, the transfer also has its flaws.  This film is definitely not demo material, and some might say hardly worth the high-definition treatment.  The colors lack vibrancy, except for Isla Fisher's luscious red hair.  The contrast runs extremely hot.  The source looks clean enough, with only a minor amount of grain persistent in the film.  However, the black levels are shallow, creating a flat image.  Some of the scenes are so dark that it looks like one practical light was used.  Details are lacking.  The image appears soft and foreground objects are fuzzy.  Close-ups are blurred.  The video could be equated with an upscaled DVD.  Sad but true.

The quality of the audio is slightly better than the video quality.  The same Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track on the HD DVD is present on the Blu-ray.  The surround channels are flat for the most part.  The final jump is jammed packed with rear channel audio, but that is about it.  There are really no dynamics in the audio track.  The music is full of old school pop songs, primarily from the band, Europe.  The audio bled a little into the surround channels, but overall the mix remains largely front-heavy.  The dialogue is decent, but lacks that final polish.  All in all, it is exactly what you would expect from a low-budget amateur film.

The same bonus materials that were on the HD DVD have been ported over to the Blu-ray.  Some are in high definition, but some are in standard def.  First there is an audio commentary with director Akiva Schaffer and actors Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone.  The track is lively, but grows tiresome quite fast.  "Ancestors Protect Me: Behind the Scenes of 'Hot Rod'" is a brief featurette that recaps the film.  There are sixteen brief deleted scenes, none of which are interesting.  There is an outtake reel that doesn't seem much different than the film itself.  "Kevin's Videos" is a collection of brief videos shot by Jorma behind the scenes.  Finally there is a theatrical trailer.

"Hot Rod" is not a typical comedy.  It has a special humor about it.  If you are a fan of YouTube videos and Saturday Night Live, then you most likely enjoy this film.  The video and audio quality are nothing special.  But I can recommend this Blu-ray disc you are in for some campy fun.

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