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Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live) stars as Rod Kimble, a stuntman with a fake mustache and a dream, in this outrageous comedy so unpredictable you won't know what hit you! Rod has never landed a jump without wiping out. His family and friends think he's a joke. And, to top it off, his stepfather Frank uses him as his own personal punching bag. But he's not going to let a few minor problems keep him from the biggest stunt of his life! <Br><Br> Co-starring Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) and Ian McShane (Shrek The Third), Hot Rod is "very, very funny from start to finish" and scales the heights of hilarity as Rod defies death to win the money, win the girl and, ultimately, win some respect.
For more about Hot Rod and the Hot Rod Blu-ray release, see Hot Rod Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on May 2, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Writer: Pam Brady
Starring: Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader, Ian McShane, Sissy Spacek
» See full cast & crew
Hot Rod Blu-ray Review
The stuntman extraordinaire jumps his way onto Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, May 2, 2009
I gave up on "Saturday Night Live" a long time ago, so I haven't seen much from Andy Samberg's initial four seasons on the show. When I saw the initial trailer for Hot Rod, I found myself busting up at his failed stunt attempts and the film quickly moved up my list of comedies to see (it also helped that Ian McShane and Danny McBride were co-stars in the film). For some reason, I never made it out to see Hot Rod in the theaters, and it even slipped off my rental radar up until now.
Released in 2007, Hot Rod was written by Pam Brady with the intention that Will Ferrell would play the leading role. Presumably busy with other projects, Ferrell decided to take on the lesser role of executive producer, and the project was turned over to The Lonely Island comedy group, which consists of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Samberg and Taccone filled acting roles in the film, while Schaffer made his directing debut (of note, Schaffer and Taccone are also writers for "Saturday Night Live"). The film only made 14 million in it's theatrical run, which was likely related to negative reviews from the majority critics.
Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) would like nothing more than to follow in his deceased father's footsteps by becoming a great stuntman. Armed with his trusty moped, Rod puts on daily displays of his stuntman prowess (or lack thereof) for the local kids in his neighborhood and his crew of middle-aged misfits. When he's not planning his next big jump, he decends into the basement of his house to challenge his stepfather Frank(Ian McShane) in one-on-one combat. Rod's convinced that beating Frank will earn him respect in their strained relationship, and he won't have to put up with being poked fun at for his dream of becoming a great stuntman. Unfortunately, Rod's goal of beating Frank in a sparring session is dashed when he learns Frank is gravely ill, and desperately in need of a heart transplant. Rod and his friends set out to raise $50,000.00 to pay for Frank's transplant, so Rod can continue his quest to beat Frank's face in.
Hot Rod succeeds on many levels, but falls on it's face too many times to justify a spot in the upper-echelon of comedy films. During the first 20 minutes of the film, I thought I was watching a copy-cat Napoleon Dynamite film. Rod is as socially awkward as you could imagine (short of Napoleon), and I had a tough time figuring out what age he was supposed to be. Eventually we get the idea he's in his mid-20's, which seems like an odd choice considering his maturity-level and antics come closer to displaying the awkwardness of a high school student. I also wasn't a fan of the film's structure, which often reminded me of several comedy skits strung together. I guess that explains both the moments of greatness, and the scenes that don't seem funny at all. One particularly bad scene comes toward the end of the film, when Rod's love interest (Isla Fisher) leaves her boyfriend (played by a much older Will Arnett) and he calls out for her to stop about 20 times. The scenes drags on far too long and isn't a funny concept in the first place, yet it somehow made it's way into the final version of the film.
Thankfully, the film also has plenty of gut-busting scenes as well. The scene where Rod's crew is dancing in the parking lot of a mini-mart is great, and the sequence where Rico (Danny McBride) beats up the owner of a van had me in stitches. My favorite scene in the film is the one where Rod is trying to get his buddies to say he's the only one that parties. It's simplistic comedy, but fantastically funny. Ian McShane is grossly underutilized in the film, but I'm glad he's starting to find work following his amazing performance in the "Deadwood" television series, and the majority of the supporting cast is easily recognizeable from their past comedy roles. Samberg is the backbone of the film and he does a pretty good job. I just wish he'd taper back on his tendency to ham-it-up too much of the time. In Napoleon Dynamite, Jon Heder was able to play the socially awkward role with a level of seriousness that made us sympathetic toward the character. Samberg can't seem to grasp that level of understated charm, so his character's over-the-top nature and lack of sincerity constantly remind you that your watching a low-brow comedy.
Hot Rod Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the VC-1 codec (at an average bitrate of 22Mbps), Hot Rod is a mixed bag on Blu-ray. Detail is marginal at best, with many scenes appearing indistinct and hazy. It's still clear this is a high-definition picture, but that's about the only positive thing I can say about the level of detail. Skin tones and color saturation are also somewhat offputting, with a strong push to golden during many daytime and indoor shots. The coloring likely represents the filmmaker's intentions, by giving the film an 80's feel, but it still mutes other colors and gives the production a flat look. If you were hoping matters would improve with black level and contrast, I have more bad news for you. Some scenes exhibit a black level that never surpasses dark grey (look for the beginning of the road luge scene), and that doesn't help matters where shadow detail is concerned. Contrast during daytime shots is mostly good, but sequences inside Rod's house can sometimes look a little muddy compared with the rest of the film due to shoddy differentiation between lighter and darker portions of the screen. The picture is still serviceable considering this is a comedy, but I'd be pretty disappointed if a special effects extravaganza was released looking like this.
Hot Rod Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Similar to the video quality, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track is passable for a comedy, but not something you'll put on to demonstrate your home theater. There are a couple of explosions that present a rare opportunity for your subwoofer to flex some muscle, and the retro soundtrack is sufficiently expansive throughout the soundfield; but those brief flashes of excellence don't do enough to save the track. Dialogue remains grounded in the front soundfield, which is appropriate in most circumstances, but I felt there were opportunities for the dialogue to spread out more than it did. Scenes with the gang talking in a group setting stayed firmly planted on my center channel speaker, instead of coming from the side speakers when someone on the right or left was speaking. Missed opportunities for surround use in the dialogue and the lack of ambient surround use to create atmosphere may indicate some corners were cut in mixing the original track, but I still have to get back to the main point that this is a comedy and most viewers won't be concerned with nitpicks about the lack of surround use.
Hot Rod Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ancestors Protect Me-Behind the Scenes of Hod Rod (480p, Dolby 2.0, 7:58 min): This tongue-in-cheek feature includes footage from the set of the film, as well as interviews with Akiva Shaffer (director) and several main actors. A good portion of the feature includes Samberg and Shaffer candidly telling the camera how much they hate each other. It's worth watching if you liked the film, but don't expect anything in-depth.
Home Video Footage of Orchestra Recording Session (480p, Dolby 2.0, 1:28 min): Hardly a worthy addition, this piece includes footage from the recording of the score used in the film. Don't bother.
Punch-Dance (480p, Dolby 2.0, 1:58 min): This hilarious supplement shows Samberg's dance scene in the forest next to Kevin Bacon's dance sequence in Footloose (the best supplement on the disc).
Kevin's Videos (480p, Dolby 2.0, 4:23 min): You can watch a series of shots Kevin recorded for his Rod Kimble movie that is partially shown in the film. Most of these sequences aren't in the film, and there are a couple of worthwhile entries.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (480p, Dolby 2.0, 14:40 min): I don't understand why some of these were omitted from the final product, but I'm glad they decided to release them here. Perhaps someday we'll see an extended version that includes several of these clips.
Outtakes Reel (480p, Dolby 2.0, 3:32 min): Most of these are deleted scenes or extensions to scenes in the film. I'm not sure why they were labeled as outtakes, and they probably could have been included in the prior supplement.
Lastly, we have a trailer for the film, presented in 1080p with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.
Hot Rod Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
When it comes to comedy, everyone has different taste. Scenes in Hot Rod that I found funny, may not be funny to other viewers, and the film's cheesiness may appeal to others more than it did to me. I wouldn't be surprised if Hot Rod develops a cult following in the years to come, but I doubt it will ever be viewed as a comedic masterpiece (even by the most rabid fans). From a technical standpoint, the Blu-ray is somewhat disappointing next to the standards set by other films on the high-definition format, so it's difficult to recommend the film to anyone that hasn't seen it before (and knows whether or not they're going to like it). I will say there are enough hilarious moments in the film to warrant repeat viewings, so at least you'll have residual value in that regard.
Hot Rod: Other Editions
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Hot Rod Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - December 16th - December 16, 2008
Since the days of Laserdisc, the Criterion Collection has dedicated their efforts to collecting the greatest classic and contemporary films from around the world, and make them available to the general public at the highest quality possible. Today, they release ...
• Paramount Catalog Titles Get Specs - October 16, 2008
Paramount Home Entertainment has revealed the technical specs and special features for the 11 upcoming catalog titles due for Blu-ray release from December through January. All titles will receive 1080p video encodes accompanied by a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. ...
• Paramount Announces Hot Rod and Into the Wild for Blu-ray - September 22, 2008
Paramount Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Andy Samberg comedy 'Hot Rod' and 'Into the Wild' to Blu-ray on December 16th. Both films will be presented in 1080p high definition video accompanied by 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtracks, though 'Hot ...
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