Hot Rod

USA, 2007
Dir. Akiva Schaffer
Not perfect, but if you like the Lonely Island vids,
then you could certainly do worse than this Adam Sandberg comedy, in which he plays a wannabe stuntman who plans to jump 15 school buses to raise money for his step-father’s heart transplant…so he can kick the old man’s ass. That’s the kicker in this film that’s half surreal and half an affectionate riff on late-80s teen flicks like Karate Kid. For goodness’ sake, 90% of the songs in this film are by Europe! And the rest are by John Farnham!
To be honest I wanted to laugh at this more than I did, what with Will Arnett in it and lots of slapstick goodness. I was reminded of the anything-goes attitude of early Stephen Chow (compare this to Chow’s Love on Delivery and tell me I’m wrong), and there’s one line by a newscaster that had me howling in the theater along with the three other people who had paid to see it.
A lot of the humor is undone by either: bad directing (Schaffer not knowing where to point the camera), bad editing (cutting too soon and not letting things hang just a little bit longer), or bad producing (leaning on both director and editor to cut the time down). Who knows? Check the riot scene and see what I mean.
Worth owning on DVD–lots of quotables. Hopefully they’ll be able to let rip next time, because this still feels very restrained.

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