We have a theory that maybe, sometimes, a film gets such a bad rap early on that its reputation is unfairly spoiled for the rest of that movie’s history. This is Second Chance Cinema. We re-examine the most infamous films to determine whether its reputation is earned or not.
The difficulty in writing the Second Chance Cinema column is defending a movie that got a bad reputation and/or bad reviews. Yes, I’d like everyone to give Hulk or The Shadow or Lake Placid a second chance, but on the other hand, I can kind of sort of see why the movie got bad ratings.
By no means should you think I’m purposefully advocating watching bad movies. I support and truly believe each movie in this column is worth watching (1).
Which brings me to Hot Rod.
Much like the last entry in SCC, Hudson Hawk, Hot Rod is very much a love it or hate it movie. It’s the first feature length movie from The Lonely Island sketch comedy group (the masterminds behind Saturday Night Live’s Digital Shorts). Andy Samberg stars as a wannabe stunt man who is in constant conflict with his overbearing father (played by Ian McShane).
Here’s some reasons why you should give it a second chance.
The movie’s backbone is absurdity. Perhaps audiences and critics weren’t ready for that type of humor, but once you realize the movie is not taking itself seriously (and you shouldn’t either) it’s a hilarious movie. This is a movie that opens with Samberg and McShane beating the utter shit out of each other. The movie also contains one of my favorite ADD, Tim & Eric style, editing sequences.
Hot Rod is a fun throwback to 80s romp movies. The plot is lighthearted and moves quickly like comedies from the 80s. There’s no dead spots in the movie. The plot and jokes move at a pace that dictates to the audience, “you should be having a good time.” Anytime the plot is Character Must Do X to Raise Money for a Sick Family Member and “X” is something ridiculous, the movie is probably going to be a fun time.
It features an early role from Danny McBride. Even cast as a supporting character, McBride damn near steals the show. Speaking of stealing scenes, Chris Parnell shows up for only a scene or two and has one of the more memorable jokes in the whole movie. As does Will Arnett. The cameos and pop-ins from well known comedians is another reason to give Hot Rod another go around.
I get if you have already seen Hot Rod and decided it wasn’t for you. However, if you were thrown for a loop by the level of absurdity, or if you ignored the movie because of critics, then definitely give Hot Rod a second chance. It’s immensely fun and thoroughly ridiculous. There hasn’t really been a recent comedy movie like it. That uniqueness deserves your attention.
(1)For example, I was extremely close to writing about The 13th Warrior. Upon rewatching, I realized the high esteem I held that movie to was only from the fog of nostalgia. In reality, it’s a meaningless movie targeted to 13 year old boys.