Is It Too 'Hot' in Here? 'SNL' Vet Andy Samberg's Film Career Is off to a Bumpy Start. Then Again, So Were Sandler's and Farley's and

By Gordon, Devin | Newsweek, August 13, 2007 | Go to article overview

Is It Too 'Hot' in Here? 'SNL' Vet Andy Samberg's Film Career Is off to a Bumpy Start. Then Again, So Were Sandler's and Farley's and


Gordon, Devin, Newsweek


Byline: Devin Gordon

According to "Saturday Night Live" wunderkind and comedy cinephile Andy Samberg, the ideal length for a funny movie is approximately 90 minutes. Samberg knows this because he's done the research. When he and his partners in comedy, boyhood pals Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, found out that Paramount Pictures was going to give them millions of dollars to make their first feature film, they immediately went online to look up the running times of all the comedies they worshiped. "No stone unturned," Samberg says. "You only get one first shot, ya know?" Up to that point, he and his pals hadn't made anything over five minutes and they knew that "Hot Rod," the story of an aspiring stuntman who's not very good at stunts, would probably have to be longer than that. So they looked up "Billy Madison" and "The Jerk" and "Tommy Boy," among others, and they noticed a pattern. "I'd say about 80 to 90 percent of them were in that 90-minute range," Samberg says. "That's the sweet spot." But they also noticed something else: the majority of these films--the ones they rewatched repeatedly as kids, still quote to each other now and revere as undisputed classics--got lousy reviews at the time and made little money. "Hot Rod," which arrived in theaters last weekend, is 88 minutes long. Critics were not kind. It got crushed at the box office by "The Bourne Ultimatum." In other words, there's no stopping it now.

Comedies have a way of sneaking into the pantheon through a side door, so while it's easy to imagine many people, not just stuffy grown-ups, rolling their eyes at a movie like "Hot Rod," it's just as likely that the kid down the aisle is thinking, Best. Movie. Ever. There are moments of inspired silliness in "Hot Rod," such as the sequence when Rod (Samberg) goes into the woods and takes a nasty spill down what can only be described as the longest hill on earth. Often, the movie feels more like 44 two-minute shorts than a normal movie with a normal plot. …

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