'Hot Rod' is slow with the laughs

The Baltimore Sun

Life can imitate non-art, too - that's one message you can take from a screening of Hot Rod. Midway through this proudly feckless tale of Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg), would-be stuntman or stunt-manchild, Rod's "manager-videographer" and stepbrother, Kevin (Jorma Taccone), puts together a highlight film that a neighborhood crowd treats like an inadvertent episode of Jackass. That's how most audiences will react to Hot Rod, even though the filmmakers know they're being silly.

A post-Napoleon Dynamite revenge-of-the-nerd movie, Hot Rod shakes together some mixed nuts, including Rod's ramp-builder Rico (Danny McBride), his mechanic Dave (Bill Hader), his macho monster of a stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) and his sweetly crushing mother Marie (Sissy Spacek), and tosses them into a generic suburb called Parkdale as if they were lab animals in a surreal-comedy clinic.

Hot Rod (Paramount) Starring Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane. Directed by Akiva Schaffer. Rated PG-13. Time 88 minutes.

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