Nerd do well

HOT ROD Di­rected by Akiva Schaf­fer. Star­ring Andy Sam­berg, Jorma Tac­cone, Isla Fisher, Bill Hader, Ian McShane, Sissy Spacek 12A cert, gen re­lease, 88 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

YES, I’m afraid Hot Rod is yet an­other com­edy about a teenage loser who, de­spite all the ev­i­dence oth­er­wise, thinks him­self a sub­ur­ban Norse god. This time round, Andy Sam­berg, star of Satur­day Night Live and YouTube, plays an as­pir­ing stunt­man with an over­pow­er­ing urge to im­press his smug, ar­ro­gant step­fa­ther. Rod (for it is he) is bet­ter look­ing than Napoleon Dy­na­mite and is marginally more so­cially adroit than that iconic loon, but he re­mains es­sen­tially the same char­ac­ter.

Should you run scream­ing? Not at all. The fact that such dis­tin­guished per­son­al­i­ties as Love­joy and Car­rie – Ian McShane and Sissy Spacek to their loved ones – have agreed to ap­pear as Rod’s step­fa­ther and mother sug­gests that the script might have some­thing fresh to add to the bulging genre.

Sure enough, Hot Rod man­ages to com­bine nerd larks with a hi­lar­i­ous pas­tiche of the class of ob­sta­cle-over­com­ing 1980s drama ex­em­pli­fied by The Karate Kid and Flash­dance. Never be­fore has poo­dle rock been used so promis­cu­ously in a film that does not bear the brand of Jerry Bruck­heimer. Few movies have made such a comic virtue of blind, un­think­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed.

None of which is to sug­gest that Hot Rod breaks any new ground. The hys­ter­i­cally overex­tended se­quence where the hero rolls end­lessly down a mighty hill re­calls a well- re­mem­bered in­ci­dent in Spring­field Gorge, and the var­i­ous failed stunts in­volv­ing bikes, fire and fridges owe much to the cat­a­strophic hu­mour of Jack­ass. But Sand­berg has a stub­born charm that should win over even the most jaded vet­eran of post- Dy­na­mite com­edy.

Be­sides, any film that man­ages to make some­thing epi­cally funny of John Farn­ham’s leg­en­dar­ily hor­rid song You’re the Voice de­serves some sort of award.

Goofy Andy Sam­berg as not-so-hot Rod

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