The entire premise of the film, Hot Rod, is based solely around the many daring stunts that Rod Kimble, played by Andy Samberg, aims to achieve. With stunts, comes the need for accessibility to the wonders that the green screen allows. Many aspects of the film industry have changed in today’s time and have opened up many new opportunities for special effects creative directors. The text, Understanding Movies, phrases it well by saying, “If William Shakespeare were alive today, he would be enthralled by the ability of computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create fantastic, brave new worlds, where the magical is commonplace” (Understanding Movies 33). The use of special effects found in Hot Rod greatly enhances the movie, as well as bringing a new element to a viewer’s perception of ethos, pathos and logos.
Throughout the film, Rod is repeatedly connecting to the ‘souls of the animal kingdom’ before he performs a new stunt. Upon naming each animal, a picture of that animal appears above his head and seems to aid in his self-assurance. During the last stunt, as seen in the clip above, he channels all five souls of the animal kingdom, who all seem to unite and send him a literal surge of confidence. This entire aspect of the movie never would have been possible without the use of special effects. This magical addition to the screen provides a visual representation of the actions occurring within Rod’s mind, which in turn brings the audience closer to the character, by feeling as if they know him.
The very next scene is the climax of the entire film: when Rod attempts to jump fifteen school buses on his motorbike, one more than Evel Knievel. In reality, this task would be impossible. However, with the addition of special effects, Rod is able to ‘fly’ above the school buses and appear as though he is conquering the feat he set before himself. Just when it seems as though he is successfully reigning in the title of ‘World’s Best Stuntman’, Rod looks down (while still flying) and sees that he is no longer on his motorcycle. Cue the inset of panic.
A viewer’s ethos is channeled immediately when Andy Samberg graces the opening scene. Thinking back on Andy’s prior career endeavors, his role on Saturday Night Live comes to mind and reminds the viewer of his comedic nature. This also enacts a viewer’s logos, by them assuming he will have a comedic role in Hot Rod. The use of special effects engages a viewer’s pathos by enhancing their emotion for the well-being of Rod, since the acting being done is taken to a ‘what used to seem physically impossible’ level.
To many, Hot Rod may seem to be a very silly or juvenile film, and while this may be very true, it is a great example of successful special effects usage. The entire plot of the film is centered on this ‘out of the question’ act that Rod Kimble has set as his goal. When first presented, many have no faith in him and his ability to achieve this dream. However, with the brilliant use of special effects, the producers help Rod seemingly achieve his dream and soar with the souls of the animal kingdom.