April 14th, 2008

NAKED YOUTH (1960) **

Three juvenile delinquents led by “Switch” (so named for his penchant for using a switchblade) escape from an honor farm and get picked up hitchhiking by a duo of heroin dealers who have just smuggled in a bunch of dope from Mexico hidden inside a doll baby.  They double cross each other back and forth for possession of the horse while the cops slowly close in on them.  In the end, Switch gets stabbed and the dope pusher gets gunned down and we all learn that drugs are bad.


This juvenile delinquent movie is better than some, but not as good as most of the genre.  It’s notable for actually featuring drugs as a major part of the story (in one scene we actually get to see a junkie’s needle marks as she prepares to shoot up), a little blood, and some tantalizing hints at nudity.  (It should’ve really been called Naked from the Back Youth.)  Even though the flick has a harder edge than most of it’s type, the pacing is sluggish and the acting leaves a lot to be desired.  The print is extremely scratchy and jumpy, but that kinda adds to the film’s charm.  If you’re a fan of the JD genre, you’ll definitely want to get your “kicks”, but others will be able to take or leave this one. 


The smooth talking dope smuggler gets the best line when he says, “When I catch up to those kids, I’ll slice them up like cheese!”


AKA:  Wild Youth.

HOT ROD (2007) *


Andy Samberg got famous from being on Saturday Night Live and doing “Digital Shorts” in which he did random ass things (like rap about The Chronicles of Naria) that were downright hilarious.  (Who could forget the immortal “Dick in a Box”?)  With Hot Rod, Samberg tries to parlay his comic sensibilities into a chance at movie stardom.  The results not only aren’t funny, but border on unwatchable. 


Samberg stars as a guy named Rod who does stunts on his moped unsuccessfully.  He has an extremely odd relationship with his stepfather (Ian McShane from Code Name:  Diamond Head) who likes to beat the snot out of him.  When his stepdad needs money for a heart transplant, Rod and his loyal pit crew organize an event where Rod will jump over 14 buses so he can raise money for his pop’s operation so he can get well enough so that Rod beat the crap out him. 


The plot is paper thin, but in a comedy like this one, the plot doesn’t matter as much as the laughs.  Unfortunately, I didn’t laugh once during the entire movie.  Even a bad Digital Short is good for at least one chuckle, but this movie was pathetic.  It wasn’t even funny enough to sustain a 90 second sketch, let alone a 90 minute movie. 


Consider the scene where Rod falls down a mountain.  And falls.  And falls.  And falls.  Not funny.  Or the scene where he and his stepbrother endlessly repeat variations of the word “cool beans”.  Again, not funny.  Not to mention the fact that all his lame stunts wouldn’t have cut it on a rerun of Jackass. 


Samberg can be funny as he’s proven time and again on Saturday Night Live, but here in this movie, he falls harder on his face than his character does.  His performance is amiable enough and I really wanted to like the movie, but Hot Rod is a total misfire.  The supporting cast (which includes Bill Hader, Isla Fisher, and Chris Parnell) all have enormous comedic talents, but like Samberg, they are all thoroughly wasted in this film.