Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hot Rod

Comedies have, for the most part, really been on fire this year. While Hot Fuzz and Superbad still tower over the rest of the pack (I’m eagerly hoping for a great latecomer to give us a full trifecta), there have been a number of good films in a genre that has recently averaged only one or two worthwhile efforts a year. While Hot Rod isn’t at the top of the list, it is a worthwhile effort and does a good job of evoking the feel of the comedies of the 80s. For a movie that's apparently spun off of SNL (which would make it the best one since at least Wayne's World), this is doubly surprising and good.

Like those older comedies, this is a fairly lighthearted, whimsical effort, that manages to give us a lot of good slapstick humor without devolving into gross-out jokes. It stars Andy Samberg as a 20-something would-be stuntman who’s trying to raise 50 grand to pay for a heart transplant for his stepfather so that he can recover enough for Andy to prove his manhood by beating him in a fight. Along the way, he puts his body through an impressive amount of abuse, smashing into ramps, falling into pools, getting set on fire, and careening through the air with alarming frequency.

There’s a good deal to enjoy about the film, particularly in the form of a supporting role by Will Arnett as a romantic rival for Andy’s childhood crush. He is delightfully assholish throughout the film, and his closing scene makes me laugh a good deal more than it probably should. I still wish Arrested Development were back on the air, but if its absence allows us work like this, then I guess I can make do.

This movie may not be about to win an award, or even be the best comedy you could check out right now, but it’s fun and silly and fairly clever. Considering every last audience poll I’ve seen has said that the vast majority of people go to movies to laugh, this should do the trick for most of you out there. Go check it out.

Rating: ***

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