This agreeable comedy is the debut feature of Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg, so we shouldn't be too surprised that it feels more like a loosely connected set of sketches than an actual movie. Following the template established by his fellow SNL alumnus Will Ferrell, Sandberg plays a lovable idiot with a passion for motorcycle jumps. Ever optimistic, he won't let a complete lack of talent interfere with his dream of raising 50,000 big ones for his dad's heart bypass operation.
Dad, played with gnarly enthusiasm by the ever-marvellous Ian McShane, is a macho moron who insists on testing his son's manhood by regularly beating him up, and sneering at Samberg's accident-prone efforts to save his life. Love interest is provided by Isla Fisher, but she gets little chance to show off her comic talents; this is very much Samberg's movie, a succession of failed stunts and disastrous pratfalls of the kind you might find any day of the week on youtube.
"As DISPOSABLE AS A PLASTIC RAZOR"
Though it's as disposable as a plastic razor, Hot Rod is not without a few good yuks. The film scores most of its laughs by mocking the excesses of 1980s aspirational flicks like Flashdance and The Karate Kid. We are treated to a couple of funny montages set to pounding electro rock, while the climactic stunt - an attempt to leap 15 school buses - is a proper punch-the-air moment. It's a shame that we have to sit through quite so much erratic slapstick and half-baked verbal surrealism in order to get there.
Hot Rod is out in the UK on 28th Sept 2007.