Hot Rod (2007)

(On Cable TV, November 2016) Humour is subjective, and it doesn’t take much more than a movie attuned to a different kind of comedy to remind us of that. So it is that Hot Rod aims for a mixture of goofy surrealism, eighties-movies homage, Napoleon Dynamite-esque Midwest Pathetic Kitsch and underdog comedy played straight. It’s an exceptionally ironic film, and it’s not surprising if it doesn’t land most of its punches—does it even care if it doesn’t? On the other hand, it does own up to its kind of comedy, and doesn’t seem particularly apologetic if much of the audience doesn’t react well. Andy Samberg stars and contributes to the script along with his Lonely Island co-stars and the result is definitely theirs. Surprisingly enough, this film about an amateur stuntman does contain a surprising number of awe-inspiring stunts—dangerous pratfalls and failed attempts performed on camera in a way that suggests real danger and pain. White Hot Rod, as a whole, isn’t all that good or enjoyable, it does have a go-for-broke distinctiveness that almost makes it respectable. It may not be for everyone, but it clearly knows what it wants to be. For there to cult status is something that will belong to others to decide—a decade later, Hot Rod still gets mentioned once in a while, although it remains unclear whether it has picked up much of a following beyond its initial audience.

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