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22nd Aug 2012

Cult Classic: Hot Rod

With man of the moment Channing Tatum set to star in an Evel Knievel biopic, we decided to revisit a hapless movie daredevil instead.


With man of the moment Channing Tatum set to star in an Evel Knievel biopic, we decided to revisit a hapless movie daredevil instead.

As one third of the comedy troupe The Lonely Island, responsible for such viral phenomenons such as “I Just Had Sex” or “I’m On A Boat”, it’s shocking that comic Andy Samberg is still not a household name.

After all, the 33-year-old is one-half of the Justin Timberlake-featured clip “Dick In A Box” and has a starring role in Adam Sandler’s latest, That’s My Boy. Across the pond he has been a Saturday Night Live regular – finishing up this year – since 2005. So where has he gone wrong?

In the eyes of some, his 2007 comedy Hot Rod (directed by another Lonely Island member and starring all three) was quite simply too odd for mainstream audiences, with a nonsensical plot and a particularly fantastic line inspired by an MC Hammer album title (“I used to be legit. I was too legit. I was too legit to quit. but now I’m not legit. I’m unlegit. And for that reason, I must quit.”).

Samberg stars as Rod Kimble – a role originally created for Will Ferrell, who served as executive producer. Kimble is a hapless stuntman who wears a fake moustache to give himself confidence while taking on decidedly not too tricky jumps.

Believing that his father was a successful stuntman working for Evel Knievel, who “would do the jumps first to make sure they were safe and let Evel come in and get all the glory”, he is unwavering in his confidence that he can make any jump on his unimpressive Hyundai moped.

The plot kicks into gear when Rod ‘s abusive stepfather Frank (Ian McShane, as terrifying as ever) is in urgent need of a heart transplant, leading Rod to seek out raising $50,000 for the operation. His plan? A “big-ass stunt”, in which he will attempt to leap over fifteen school busses.

Can Rod conquer his lack of talent? Is rage-dancing dangerous in the middle of a forest? Can he convince his neighour (Isla Fisher) to ditch her hilariously evil yuppie boyfriend played by Will Arnett? Will AM radio ever make a comeback? All these questions are raised and mostly answered in 88 minutes of really weird comedy.

Like Anchorman and many before it, the genius of Hot Rod lies in its mostly improvised gags, in which scenes completely overstay their welcome until they become funnier again (the aforementioned forest rage dance).

As it’s such a somewhat narrow form of comedy, it’s somewhat unsurprising that the film failed to set the box office alight, grossing just $14m from a $25m budget. Perhaps it’s a much safer bet to hitch a ride onto the next Adam Sandler flick instead, as Samberg has since done.

So while Hot Rod wasn’t to everyone’s tastes and was sadly only watched by a small minority, it’s already became a comedy cult classic for its small army of fans brought together through a love of fake moustaches, “conveniently priced” surgery and an answer to the most elusive question of our time – just who would win in a fight between an anthropomorphic taco beating up a grilled cheese sandwich?

For more cult films, check out the Jameson Cult Film Club.




Cult films