Hot Rod

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Hot Rod

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu

The Pitch: Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) is a self-proclaimed stuntman who spends his days trying to live up to the legacy of his father, who he believes used to test stunts for Evel Knievel before the famous daredevil made the jumps himself. But he also hopes to prove his manhood to his step-father Frank (Ian McShane) by beating the hell out of him in a fight. Unfortunately, a wrench gets thrown in his plans when Frank becomes deathly ill, leaving Rod with only one option: raise $50,000 to pay for life-saving surgery, all so he can finally defeat Frank.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: Hot Rod was the first movie to come from the crew known as The Lonely Island on Saturday Night Live. After becoming famous for their SNL Digital Shorts, Akiva Shaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg made the jump to the big screen with an original comedy. With a script from writer Pam Brady (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Team America: World Police), Hot Rod has the feel of a 1980s extreme sports movie mixed with the absurd comedy that people came to love about SNL Digital Shorts, and it does so with a stellar ensemble cast of comedy heavy hitters.

Andy Samberg leads the way as the inexplicably overly confident Rod Kimble, Jorma Taccone tags along as his boyish younger brother Kevin, and Danny McBride and Bill Hader tag along as Rico and Dave, helping him plan and promote all his stunts. Then there’s Isla Fisher as the dream girl next door, Will Arnett as her douchebro boyfriend, Sissy Spacek as Rod’s mother, and Ian McShane as Rod’s step-father Frank.

Unfortunately, Hot Rod got lost in the end of the summer of 2007 and became a box office bomb. The movie made just under $14 million in its entire theatrical run in the United States, and overseas it pulled in a paltry $415,000. But it has since become a cult classic, and it’s only grown in popularity thanks to The Lonely Island’s other collaborations on the big screen, which include equally low-grossing box office failures that also became cult favorites: MacGruber and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Both of those movies are considered to be among the best comedies of the last decade, not just by our own staff, but by comedy connoisseurs in general. Hot Rod is like a Saturday Night Live movie without a sketch that preceded it, which is probably why it was so poorly received at first.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen Hot Rod, just watch this clip and see what you’ve been missing out on:

There are endlessly hilarious lines in this movie too. Whether it’s Bill Hader deadpanning, “You know, pools are perfect for holding water,” or Kevin asking, “Hey, Rod, what’s that song about a grandma getting run over by a reindeer?” Then there’s Rico’s lamentation of an exhausting dream he had, which is so good that I’m gonna put it in block quotes:

“I’m kinda grumpy today, dude. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. I was having those dreams again. Ya know, how it’s just me in a castle and I gotta fight, like, a thousand wizards and the only way to beat them is to punch them as hard as I can in their faces. Then, when I’m done, all their little wizard wives came out and wanted me to have sex with them – which is kinda weird.”

These are just some of the hilarious moments throughout the entire movie, which also includes a 1980s punch-dancing sequence, an inspirational musical march, a secret martial arts move, some gutbusting physical comedy, some of the weirdest work you’ll ever see Ian McShane do, and a hilarious bit part by Chris Parnell. Do yourself a favor, toss back a cold one, spark up a blunt, or whatever it is you do to unwind like a grown up, and let the hilarity roll over you like Rod’s motorized dirt bike with pedals.

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