(Z To A is an ongoing series: cumulative reviews of my DVD collection in reverse alphabetical order.)
Plot Synopsis: 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!
– From DVD Production Notes
If you haven’t seen Hot Rod I feel sorry for you. It must be seen to be understood, and even then there are such levels of absurdity in it that you’d assume everyone involved has no respect for reality. It’s also the most quotable and meme-ready comedy of the 2000s, a virtual goldmine of moments, inside jokes and punchlines tailor-made for the Internet.
See? If you haven’t seen the movie, you’d just think “This is Reddit.”
As I’ve mentioned before, absurdity and randomness are the essence of what I find funny. Hot Rod has that in spades, and not only that- it sincerely doesn’t give a shit about making sense. What time era does it take place in? Why is the soundtrack mostly Europe? Why does the old guy from Road House (1989) show up? Why do we never see the totally awesome bathroom at the burger stand? Who is Douglas Bubbletrousers?
Why will saying “Cool Beans” never be the same again? Why can’t I stop saying and texting it?
(Side note: my friend Adam got stuck in a “Cool Beans” loop with a complete stranger in front of a bunch of kids. They got scared. That’s the power of this movie.)
Even stranger is the fact that Rod and Kevin Kimble are played by Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone, two guys in their late twenties. Their friends Dave and Rico, played by Bill Hader and Danny McBride, are also pushing thirty. And yet it’s easy to imagine the story was written about teenagers. Or ten-year-olds. That might explain why no one drives, everyone lives with their parents, Rod has a READ poster with Yo-Yo Ma and Kevin’s clothes are way, way too small. It also accounts for him singing George Michael to his stuffed animals. Dude, the last time I did that I was six.
So yeah, these guys are overgrown children. But seriously, no complaints. I love everything they do.
Besides, any glaring questions you may have are overshadowed by how funny Hot Rod is. I showed it to my friend Bonnie after she had a hysterectomy and almost turned it off because I thought she was going to rip her stitches and die of internal bleeding. Why? Because Andy Samberg falls down a fucking mountain for fifty seconds. That’s ridiculous as well as relentless (he pretty much ties with Chris Farley rolling down a mountainside in Black Sheep).
My cousin Peter mentioned that the movie’s musical number/riot sequence was one of the funniest things he had ever seen. My brother simply couldn’t get over the line, “Man, we just ran over a small bus!” (Indeed, this line is so good it has its own Facebook page.) It’s also the only film where you’ll hear Chris Parnell use the term “boner police,” watch Queens Of The Stone Age singing hair metal and- literally- witness food fighting to the death. There’s something for everybody.
Any fan of this movie knows that Andy Samberg’s fits of histrionics and lamp-smashing rage are the heart and soul of this beast. The guy has a Golden Globe now, but in comparison to Brooklyn Nine-Nine all you can think is, “This is a long time coming.”
Male rage has never been so operatic and hilarious. So are his awkward “love” scenes with Denise (Isla Fisher), who is more than the usual girlfriend character. After all, she’s the one who gives Rod the tools to defeat his stepfather/arch nemesis Frank (Ian McShane). She’s also knows how to perform rescue breathing and ride a motorbike like a boss.
But hey, I love everyone in this movie. When it comes to Dave and Rico I especially like them because they remind me of people I know. McBride’s Rico reminded me so much of my friend David that I thought he could have played the role just as well (especially lines like, “And here is a rock to symbolize all of my hard work”). It seems like a lot of people don’t like McBride, but damn, he’s fantastic in this one.
Bill Hader may be playing the biggest screw-up in the movie but it’s hard not to care about him, even if he spontaneously does acid and calls people “Mountain Face.” I’d also argue that his wardrobe should have won a Golden Globe simply because he dresses like my sister Hannah. Check out his ensemble:
It’s so sexy it showed up at Nordstrom’s six years later. The fashion world simply couldn’t let it go.
As mentioned before, Chris Parnell and Ian McShane have their moments as well as Sissy Spacek, playing Rod’s unwitting mother. Even Chester Tam, Samberg’s college roommate, makes his mark in a couple of scenes.
Last but not least is Will Arnett, who in his post-Arrested Development glory plays another nightmarish Gob-type: lawyer, romantic rival and all around douchebag Jonathan. Arnett is in excellent form although he is only a few scenes (in a deleted one he introduces his friend Sully with, “Guess who did eight years for murdering his niece?! Sullivan!“). He also has one of the best film exits ever.
Everyone in my family owns Hot Rod (no, really- we checked after last Christmas to make sure). Just about all my friends have seen/own it too.
And if you haven’t, you need to sit down and watch it right now. It’s streaming on Netflix. Or you can buy it. Or you can come over to my house.