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Hot Rod

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For Crude Humor, Language, Some Comic Drug-Related and Violent Content)

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Starring: Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, with Sissy Spacek and Ian McShane

Written by: Pam Brady

Directed by: Akiva Schaffer

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Akiva Schaffer, Actor Andy Samberg and Actor Jorma Taccone, Ancestors Protect Me: Behind The Scenes Of Hot Rod, Deleted/Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary, Outtakes Reel, Kevin's Videos, Punch-Dance, Home Video Footage Of Orchestra Recording Session, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (11 Scenes)

Released: November 27th, 2007

 

 

"Hot Rod" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's a pretty spiffy transfer. Fleshtones look spot-on, and color saturation is great: colors are bold and do pop quite a bit, making this a visually pleasing transfer. Detail is excellent too. However though, a few flaws pop up: high contrast, some edge halos, a speck here and there and some very slight edge enhancement. While those are only distracting here and there, it doesn't ruin what is a crisp and sharp transfer overall.

 

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on "Hot Rod" is pretty robust, and definitely does justice to the source material. There are some kickin' surround sounds here, with strong imaging and where the rears feel pretty engaged. Rod revving up his bike and his stunts (as well as crashes) are the most noticeable, but other scenes play with the speakers to good effect (Rod fighting with his stepfather Frank comes to mind). Trevor Rabin's heavily-synthesized score resonates quite well through the channels, and all the dialogue spoken is very clear and easy to hear. Dynamic range is pretty good for the most part, and the subwoofer rumbles here and there. This is a very enjoyable and balanced mix.

Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes are also available in French and Spanish. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish, and there's English closed captioning via your television.
 



It may not have been a hit at the box office, but "Hot Rod" still gets a pretty hot DVD treatment. First up is an Audio Commentary with Director Akiva Schaffer, Actor Andy Samberg and Actor Jorma Taccone. The rapport is clearly friendly and jokey here, and why not? I'm sure some of you know the trio are lifelong friends who's roots in entertaining go way back, particularly with their hilarious "Lonely Island" shorts. As you'd expect, there's a lot of mock comments and a lot of jokes cracked - and the three seem to have a ball. They're all ready to laugh and enjoy themselves, which makes this commentary go down easily. And yet, through it all, they praise the cast and mention key members of the crew, and do offer a fair amount of production stories. Sure, not everything is exactly screen-specific, and there are tangents that don't exactly go anywhere, but if you're a fan of the movie or of the comedy of these three, you might want to give this a listen.

Ancestors Protect Me: Behind The Scenes Of Hot Rod is an 8 minute piece that looks at the making of the movie - mainly with on-the-set footage, and interviews with Taccone, Samberg, Schaffer, Isla Fisher and Bill Hader. There's nothing really insightful here, as it's really a featurette that shows everyone goofing off on set and having fun. Still, a few production facts do pop up: namely that this movie was originally meant to star Will Ferrell. An enjoyable, harmless watch.

There are 13 Deleted/Extended Scenes, with Optional Commentary from Schaffer, Samberg and Taccone. There are some chuckles to be had with this deleted material, but probably would have been superfluous in the final cut. The trio don't offer many insights other than pacing reasons, but as you'd expect, do joke around a bit. The deleted material is in non-anamorphic widescreen.

Unfortunately, the Outtakes Reel - lasting nearly 4 minutes - isn't really that funny. There are quite a few of Kevin's Videos, which are fun little shorts featuring our stuntman hero (as recorded from the character Kevin in the film). Punch-Dance is an amusing 2 minute piece that compares a scene in "Hot Rod" to "Footloose." Rounding out the disc is Home Video Footage Of Orchestra Recording Session (it's fun to see the score come to life), and the film's Theatrical Trailer in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1.

 

Hopefully "Hot Rod" will find more of a life on DVD than in theaters, and this DVD should please all those who check it out: with a great presentation, and some nice supplements that complement the film's tone, fans of the movie should definitely pick this one up. If you missed it and enjoy a silly comedy, complete with some 1980s homages, then this makes a fun rental.