Wannabe stuntman Rod ("Saturday Night Live" newbie Andy Samberg) works to raise $50,000 to pay for his step dad's (Ian McShane) heart transplant--just so the old man will live long enough for Rod to finally kick his ass and earn the respect he never received. (You read that correctly.) Meanwhile, Rod lusts after Denise (Isla Fisher), who's dating the typical alpha-male jerk (Will Arnett).
Big question: Can Samberg's first starring role fare better than other "SNL" vet material like Tim Meadows' "The Ladies Man" or Julia Sweeney's "It's Pat!"?
Adam Sandler's goofball demeanor, and "Hot Rod" is as dumb as early Sandler but gladly substitutes silliness for stupidity. The movie rides along on carefree good vibes and indulges in its own improvisational universe--Rod's stress-relieving, '80s music-punctuated dance in the woods is a riot--enough to keep it from feeling like a sketch that's run out of gas.
Skip it: If you're too irritated by the embarrassing inattention to the female characters and occasional bad taste to enjoy the side gags, like Rod falling down a hill for one minute straight and his hallucination of a taco fighting with a grilled cheese sandwich. It's violently delicious!
Bottom line: Like a stuntman, "Hot Rod" is willing to screw up big time in its pursuit of total awesomeness. And even if the movie isn't totally awesome, it's certainly got more huge laughs than the average episode of "SNL."
Bonus: The flick gives Tom Selleck cause to celebrate and Alex Trebek reason to regret going the clean-shaven route. As Rod says, "All great men have mustaches."
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed by Akiva Shaffer; screenplay by Pam Brady; photographed by Andrew Dunn; edited by Malcolm Campbell; music by Trevor Rabin; production design by Stephen Altman; produced by Lorne Michaels and John Goldwyn. A Paramount Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:28. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for crude humor, language, some comic drug-related and violent content).
Rod Kimble - Andy Samberg
Denise - Isla Fisher
Kevin Powell - Jorma Taccone
Dave - Bill Hader
Frank Powell - Ian McShane
Marie Powell - Sissy Spacek
Fast-Paised review: 'Hot Rod'
Andy Samberg survives hot and cold comedy
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.