Director: Akiva Schaffer
Writer(s): Pam Brady
Filming: Filmed from July 24th to September 23rd 2006, in British Columbia, Canada.
Box Office: Took $14,334,401 worldwide, a massive 97% – $13,938,332 – of which came from the US. Opened at #9 in the US BO chart taking $5,310,711 on its opening weekend. Grossed $163,407 in the UK, $70,617 in Australia, and $84,522 in the United Arab Emirates. Only made $748 in France!
Runtime: 88 minutes
Rating: PG-13 in the US,
Rod Kimble (Samberg), a self-proclaimed stuntman, is convinced he has bravery in his blood. He’s grown up believing he’s the son of Evel Knievel’s test-rider, a courageous stuntman who died in his prime. Rod is committed to fulfilling his father’s legacy. Only problem is…he sucks!
Rod lives at home with his loving mom Marie (Sissy Spacek), jerk of a stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) and nerdy stepbrother Kevin (Jorma Taccone.) He doesn’t have a job, and can usually be found doing stunts on his moped, attempting to jump over everything from milk trucks to public swimming pools. Rod and his team – Dave (Bill Hader), the mechanic; Rico (Danny McBride), the ramp builder and Kevin, the team manager/videographer – are inseparable. It’s almost like they share a brain. When Rod’s neighbor Denise (Isla Fisher) joins the team, the group’s IQ virtually doubles.
Rod remains optimistic in spite of the abuse he suffers from his stepfather. Frank has a penchant for beating the tar out of Rod, who just keeps coming back for more in the hopes of earning Frank’s respect by besting him in one of their regular knock-down brawls. When Frank gets sick and needs a $50,000 operation, Rod attempts to raise the money by undertaking his biggest stunt ever – jumping 15 buses, one more than Evel Knievel himself ever dared. After all, he’s got to get Frank all better so he can kick his ass!
Andy Samberg … as Rod Kimble
Jorma Taccone … as Kevin Powell
Bill Hader … as Dave
Danny McBride … as Rico
Sissy Spacek … as Marie Powell
Ian McShane … as Frank Powell
Will Arnett … as Jonathan
Chris Parnell … as Barry Pasternack
Released first in the US on August 3rd 2007, followed by Italy on August 10th, France on August 22nd, and Spain on August 31st. Released in the UK on September 28th 2007, and then Australia on October 11th 2007.
Isla plays Denise, Rod’s next door neighbour and his secret crush. When Denise comes home from college during Rod’s mission, he is worried he is going to embarrass himself in front of her. Denise is a nice, smart girl, who seems to be up for some fun and volunteers herself to join Rod’s gang and go through the initiation he tells her is necessary. He soons gets her on board to help him with his goal to raise money for his step-father’s surgery. Unfortunately for Rod, she is dating rich city guy Jonathan. Denise continues to be the apple of Rod’s eye, and he attempts to both try to impress her, and make her jealous enough to realise he’s the one she wants.
Isla says that Denise ended up being ‘the straight person’ in the movie, representing the audience as the ‘voice of reason’ and bringing the boys back down to earth.
• Isla was Andy Samberg and the crew’s first choice for Denise.
• Isla speaks with an American accent in this role.
• Says that thinks this role only required her to “just stand there and roll my eyes”.
• Isla admits that she found being the ‘straight’ guy in this comedy “very frustrating” at times, especially as they had originally planned to make Denise funny. She added, though, that she also found it rewarding when she was able to keep a straight face amidst all the jokes being filmed!
• Continuity Error: Right before Rod goes down the hill on his wheeled sled, Denise’s hands alternate between being in her back pockets and hanging by her sides in different shots.
• Continuity Error: When Rod introduces the Frank Fund, Denise’s back is shown. She is wearing a top with spaghetti straps. In the next shot and for the rest of the scene she is wearing a t-shirt.
– Isla Fisher: “They wouldn’t even let me perform a single stunt. There was one stunt where all I had to do was stand on the back of a moped. I wanted to do that stunt myself because, basically, nothing much really scares me. I would have liked to do more action scenes in Hot Rod but I can’t really complain. They say that giving birth is the biggest stunt of all.”
– Isla Fisher: “This was an exciting project for me originally, because I was going to come in and be responsible for creating Denise and we were going to make her a funny character, but we ran out of time. Then we realised just before we started shooting that you needed someone to represent the audience – the straight person. It ended up being Denise, which was a challenge for me because I wanted to play funny and I didn’t want to be ‘The Girl’ in the movie.”
– Isla Fisher: “I flew up to Vancouver four weeks early and we wrote this really funny character – we created it together. Then literally I think it was three days before shooting, everybody kind of decided that there was no one for the audience to relate to, because these boys as characters were living in this really isolated, immature world. They wanted some of the audience to basically feel – Wow, I’m doing really great. Anyway, to cut a long story short, Denise ended up being the straight girl, so I literally started filming kind of confused as to how I was going to pull it off.”
– Isla Fisher: “Actually, with this movie, it’s always a pleasure to promote something you’re into. I thought it was sort of a cross between Napoleon Dynamite and Wet Hot American Summer. It was really original, you know? The ’80s parodies and all the absurd riot scenes.”
– Isla Fisher: “I thought it could be of a bit of a frat boy sort of vibe, to be making sexist jokes, but actually, they were so warm and charming and lovely, and they are just really nice guys. Really nice, all of them–I never once felt like the only girl, ever.”
– Isla Fisher: “I had been shooting, and when the cameras weren’t rolling, I was making jokes and mucking around, and when the cameras were rolling, I was very serious, which is an interesting way to be at work in comedy. I was the straight man and the boys got to be funny, so obviously I was a bit, what about me?!”
– Isla Fisher: “We weren’t doing Shakespeare, but you do want the story to work in whatever genre it is. With a movie like this, you really want it to work to a degree. You don’t want to look too closely at it, cause it will probably dissolve.”
– Isla Fisher: “Akiva seemed extraordinarily experience from day one. He really had thought through all his choices, the way he wanted it to be shot, the form of the movie, he had a very clear vision for the film.”
– Andy Samberg: “We had all liked her in ‘Wedding Crashers’. She really brightened things up on set, and it was nice to have a female presence on the team.”
– Akiva Schaffer: “You can feel that tinge of intelligence behind her eyes. The way she says things or the looks she gives, you can see there’s more there.”
– Rod: “You look pretty.”
– Denise: “What did you say?”
– Rod: “Uh, I said you look shitty! Good night Denise!”
– Rod: “So Denise! I know why you came over here.”
– Denise: “Uhh, you do?”
– Rod: “Yeah. You wanna join my crew!”
– Denise: “Umm…”
– Rod: “Can’t lie, I think it’s a great idea – we could use someone with your college experience.”
– Denise: “Cool, I’d love to join…”
– Rod: “Woaahhh woahhh Denise, slow down! You can’t just waltz in off the street and demand to be in the crew!”
– Denise: “But I thought…”
– Rod: “Yeah, I know! Fact is, you can’t join til you go through intitiation?”
– Denise: “Alright, what’s the initiation?”
– Rod: “It’s crazy. It’s like, the craziest thing you could even imagine.”
– Denise: “Ok…”
[Rod spills his drink on her shoes]
– Denise: [screams] “Rod!”
– Rod: “Welcome aboard!”
– Denise: “Oh, Rod! What were you going to ask me?”
– Rod: “Oh, right, I was going to ask you who you think would win in a fight between… a grilled cheese sandwich and a taco.”
– Denise: “Is that really what you were gonna ask?”
– Rod: “Yes.”
– Denise: “Umm… grilled cheese – but only in a fair fight. If it’s prison rules, I’d take a taco.”
– Rod: “Wow, that’s pretty racist but correct.”
– Denise: “I’ll see you guys!”
– Rod: “Tell you what, why don’t you grab that brainy beau of yours and we’ll make it a double date.”
– Denise: “Really?”
– Rod: “Sure.”
– Denise: “Ok, that sounds like fun.”
– Rod: “Great, because I also think it sounds like fun … a lot!”
– Rod: “Hey, Denise, have I ever shown you a picture of my dead dad?”
– Denise: “No.”
– Rod: “Oh, you’ve gotta see it. He’s super dead.”
– Denise: “That’s him? He looks so nice. He was a stuntman?”
– Rod: “Oh, yeah. He used to work for Evel Knievel, testing his bikes before big jumps. He would do the jumps first to make sure they were safe and then let Evel come in and get all the glory. After a while the old man said, ‘To hell with that. I want the credit I deserve.’ So one afternoon, he set out to jump ten milk trucks. He nailed the take-off, but when he landed, something terrible happened. His front tyre exploded like a cannonball, and his handle bars went straight through his head. Blood was everywhere. His teeth were ground down to a powder, and the front of his face exploded out the back of his skull. He died instantly… the next day.”
– Denise: “That’s horrible.”
– Denise: “Tai Chi teaches that if you focus your body and mind you will be able to perform at the peak of your abilities.”
– Rod: “Yes, sensei.”
– Denise: “You don’t have to call me sensei, Rod.”
– Rod: “Got it. Sensei, I have a question – is there a Tai Chi move that would make a grown man crap his pants and not know why?”
– Denise: “I’m not gonna lie to you, Rod. That move does exist. But you’re not ready for it yet.”
– Rod: “So, Denise, tell me about Jonathan. What’s that dude all about?”
– Denise: “Well, we’ve been going out for about a year.”
– Rod: “Hmm, and it’s going well?”
– Denise: “Yeah, yeah. I mean, every relationship has it’s ups and downs, but…”
– Rod: “Right. I’ve heard that. And he’s a nice guy?”
– Denise: “Oh, yeah! And he’s really smart. He’s actually in line to become a junior partner at his law firm.”
– Rod: “Right, totally. You guys should break up.”
– Denise: “What?”
– Rod: “Nothing. Hey, Dave’s back!”
– Dave:: “You guys, the bathroom here is nuts!”
– Rod: “So, how do you like being in the crew so far.”
– Denise: “It’s been interesting!”
– Rod: “Told you.”
• Cinema Blend: “Isla Fisher, who was brilliant earlier this year in The Lookout, doesn’t even seem to know that she’s in a movie. It’s never clear why her character is hanging around with a loser like Rod, and she seems just as confused on that subject as we are. Fisher mostly stands around and gives Samberg blank stares, as if she’s forgotten all of her lines and is hoping that if she’s really still no one will notice.”
• UrbanCinefile.com.au: “It is hard to imagine what prompted Sissy Spacek to take on the thankless role of Rod’s mother, or Isla Fisher’s partaking as Rod’s dream girl (Isla’s sweet-hearted Denise is the most likeable character in the film).”
• Rolling Stone: “Wedding Crashers live wire Isla Fisher is drained of personality as Rod’s dream girl.”
• BBC: “Love interest is provided by Isla Fisher, but she gets little chance to show off her comic talents; this is very much Samberg’s movie, a succession of failed stunts and disastrous pratfalls of the kind you might find any day of the week on youtube.”
• New York Times: “Ms. Fisher, an actress who showed herself to be a nimble comic performer in “Wedding Crashers,” is not allowed to be funny in this infantile comic universe. Funny is apparently a guy thing.”
• The Cinema Source: “Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers, The Lookout) makes the most of out her rather meager supporting role as Rod’s love interest Denise. There aren’t a whole lot of moments for her to shine here, but when she gets the chance, Fisher shows she’s got what it takes to run with the boys.”
• Reel Film: “The incredibly quirky supporting cast – which, in addition to McShane, boasts appearances by Isla Fisher, Sissy Spacek, and Will Arnett – is as effective as it is impressive, while director Akiva Schaffer’s passion for ’80s movies such as Footloose and The Karate Kid adds a layer of homage that proves irresistible. The end result is an effort that’ll surely delight as many viewers as it irritates, and one can’t help but hope that this marks the beginning of a long and fruitful movie career for Samberg.”
• USA Today: “If you’re looking for plausibility, this is not your movie. If you’re looking for laughs, this is not your movie. If you like seeing delusional overgrown adolescents fall down a lot, then this one’s for you.”
It’s a tough one to call! While we have no problem seeing Isla doing something other than provide the jokes, Isla has been vocal in her frustration about having to be the ‘straight’, serious character in this film, and has hinted that she felt tricked into taking the part. The movie was not my cup of tea to say the least, and it did feel like Isla was a bit of a spare part – there is no doubt she is worthy of much better characters and movies. She has a fairly big role, but is simply the desired lust object of the film. Hot Rod is an absurdly silly movie – if that’s your kind of thing then see it, but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.
2007 was a big year for Isla, thanks to this movie and The Lookout, and she was all over the place. She only attended one promotional event for this movie – the Los Angeles premiere in July – but she did so looking radiant and heavily pregnant with her first baby! Isla gamely posed for photographers at the event, as well as her co-stars including Andy Samberg. She was again featured in more high profile international magazines, including Glamour, Details, Elle, and In Style. Isla also gave several promotional interviews for the film.
• News & Updates for Hot Rod at Isla Fisher Web
• Amazon.co.uk – purchase the DVD
• Amazon.co.uk – purchase the Blu-ray
• Amazon.com – purchase on Amazon Video
• Amazon.com – purchase the DVD
• Amazon.com – purchase the Blu-ray
• EzyDVD.com.au – purchase the DVD