Why I love Hot Rod So Very Much and Why Craig Is Threatened By It’s Majesty
So when deciding what to write for my first blog a lot of thoughts came into my head. A blog says a lot about a person, who they are, what they believe, how they see the world, etc. And I figured that since I am the connoisseur of comedy my first blog had better be about a comedy and what could be a better comedy choice than the movie in which my avatar’s tee-shirt represents (that’s right Craig) HOT ROD! If you’ve been listening to our podcast since early on, and I’m assuming you have been, you will remember that my fellow podcaster Andrew Craig HATES this movie and all I can take from our little tiffs over this gem of a comedy is that he must be somehow threatened by it’s majesty. Let me start by saying that I am not one to judge people but I mean come on, he LOVED Where the Wild Things Are. LOVED IT!?! I’m just sayin’ is all. Also, at the risk of getting “kicked in the cunt,” as Craig so eloquently puts it, I am yet again going to bring up the brilliance that is Hot Rod.
I wouldn’t usually go around saying that a movie and myself were destined to be together but it sure seemed that way with Hot Rod. From the moment I first laid eyes on the trailer I knew that this movie and I, we were gonna be great together! And it didn’t stop at the trailer. That summer my husband, my cousins and myself were walking down the Santa Monica Pier when a guy with a backpack stopped us and asked us if we would like some free stuff. Hell yeah, we wanted free stuff! Who doesn’t? Well it turned out that his backpack was filled with Hot Rod memorabilia and we got a ton of it. Including a Team Rod shirt that I won by answering a trivia question, destiny! However my path was later obstructed when the movie came and went out of theaters before I even had a chance to see it and later that summer my friend said her brother saw it and said it was terrible. I pressed onward knowing that at the end of my journey I would find myself laughing my ass off and being able to proudly wear my new shirt.
Hot Rod comes from the mind of the great Pam Brady, who brought us such greats as South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, Team America: World Police and more recently, Hamlet 2. The cast includes a large number of SNLers including the boys from Lonely Island, Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone and directed by fellow Islander Akiva Schaffer. You can’t go wrong, right?
So what makes the perfect comedy? Besides the obvious, story, comedic, timing, set up and punch line. For me a great comedy has to have two additional components, silliness and plenty of one-liners.
The story of Hot Rod is an obvious poke at any 1980s sports drama. The hero has a dream, he meets a girl that helps him with his dream, there’s a conflict in the middle that makes the hero want to give up and then the coveted 80s montage training sequence happens where he hones his craft and trains to win. Throw in a lot of terrible 80s music and you have a 1980s sports drama.
Hot Rod is about Rod Kimble an Evil Knievel-esque stunt man who does death-defying stunts (badly) all while trying to win the heart of the girl next door. When he finds out that his step dad, who he desperately wants acceptance from is dying and needs a heart transplant he attempts to raise money to pay for it so that he can get him better and “beat him to death!”
The typical 80s sports drama starts out with a spectacular demonstration of said sport. Hot Rod starts out the same way. The difference is that the “hero” in this case actually really sucks at his “sport.” In his first attempt at a stunt he tries to jump a mail truck. After revving his moped he takes off. The takeoff ramp breaks, comically sending the bike into the truck and Rod’s body into the landing ramp.
Lets us not forget the importance of comedic timing, set up and joke. I have one great example of the brilliant use of these elements in the film. It comes fairly early in the film when Rod goes to his “quiet place,” and we witness him doing a very similar dance to that of Kevin Bacon’s character in Footloose to the exact same music. We think that this is the joke so we laugh. Then the “dance” turns into a gymnastics demonstration, we laugh again. He then begins to hilarious tumble down a hill, we laugh some more. The hill becomes a mountain and he continues to fall and fall and fall. Just when you think he’s made it to the bottom he keeps falling and falling and falling until he reaches the bottom where he gets up, brushes himself off and continues on.
Perhaps one of the funniest examples of one of my key components, silliness, comes towards the middle of the film when Rod and his brother do a sort of “cool beans,” remix. At first this scene kinda bothered me because I wasn’t sure it had a place in the film or any film but I later realized that those characters would most definitely have a conversation like this and I’m sure in their heads they pictured it happening exactly as it was edited together for the viewing audience. In fact on a personal note, I think my BFF Aubrey and I had a similar conversation where we spoke to each other as Wookiees?
As I mentioned earlier I think a truly great comedy has to have a good steady stream of one-liners and Hot Rod is no exception. Although most of my favorites come from Danny McBride’s character Rico the whole cast has their moments. Here are some of my favorites:
“Never sneak up on a man who’s been in a chemical fire.” –Frank, Rod step dad
“You know I have a hormone disorder!” –Rod
“I am gonna get you better and then I’m gonna beat you to death!”-Rod
“ I needed to think last night so I galloped into a wooded glen and after punch dancing out my rage and suffering an extremely long and very painful fall I realized what has to be done.” -Rod
“I go to church every god dammed Sunday, you gonna bring the demons outta me!” -Rico
“This is my hat now, this is totally my hat!” -Rico
“I’m freakin’ pumped! I been drinkin’ green tea all god damn day!” -Rico
“I don’t even cry and look at me, you’re about to make tears come outta my face.” -Rico
“Who’m I suppose to build ramps for? Who’m I suppose to build ramps for now!?!” -Rico
“I used to be legit, in fact I was two legit. I was two legit to quit but now I’m not legit, I’m unlegit and for that reason I must quit.” -Rod
“I think you just ran over a small bus, it was a really small bus, and you just ran over it.” –Dave, played by Bill Hader.
“In fact, I’ve got a tattoo here that fully illustrates my point. It’s of this rebellious young man and he’s urinating on an FM radio and then this other stream of urine is going onto that television set. Implausible I know but I like to think that he had sex the night before and now a little bit of residue is blocking his urethra allowing the urine to flow in two separate directions. You may also note that an AM radio is sitting safely dry in the middle.” –Barry Pasternack, the AM radio station owner played by Chris Parnell.
Okay, I think I may have gotten a little carried away with the “one-liners” section. That last one was like a five-liner.
I know that this movie isn’t for everyone and I know I give Craig a lot of crap for not liking it. Then again he gives me just as much crap for liking it but the point is most entertainment is all about personal preference and I think that’s what makes us such an odd but interesting bunch here at The Fandom Menace. I love some truly bad comedies, Matt loves some truly bad action movies, Brundon loves some truly bad movies period and Craig loves Where the Wild Things Are? Everyone is different and that is what makes it interesting. I can only hope that you will come away from this thinking, “Maybe I should give that movie a second chance?”