Hot Water  Review – A generic underdog sports drama with an American Pie obession
Larry Rippenkroeger’s ‘Hot Water’ is as basic as filmmaking could be. If this wasn’t an hour and 40 minutes long, it could easily pass off as one of those lifetime channel movies you would watch on a Sunday. Sans the gross-out, sex-comedy that kick this feature off, the lifetime channel is exactly where the film belongs. It can also pass off as a sports video on YouTube or some direct-to-home video midnight movie. I mean, don’t get me wrong! There isn’t some kind of killer on the move here but there’s just so little effort put into bringing this film together that you wish it did.
More so, it takes a while before Rippenkroeger gets to the point. We spend the first 15 odd minutes on random ski videos with superlative stunts as a varied number of characters crack sorry jokes. There are also a few gross-out gags that could put off the most invested of viewers. To add to that, the forced comedy actually feels like it wants to be extremely offensive. The only thing it reminded me of was the early American Pie movies. While the aforementioned managed to be occasionally funny, Hot Water scales way off the mark. The jokes are just crass and they never hit the mark intended to.
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Coming to the film itself, the plot revolves around Billy Burnett (Glenn McCuen) – a 21-year-old aimless young man. He has no real motivation to get his life moving and all that he actually likes is riding his jet ski. His father is a marketing genius who doesn’t pay all that attention to his son but is reasonably well-connected. So, when he realizes that his good-for-nothing, go-pro-wielding-Instagram-loving son actually dreams of being a pro jet skier, he hatches a plan with a random tow-truck businessman, punningly named “Dog” (mind you that his business is named “camel-tow).” So, Dog somehow manages to convince his old friend and Jet Ski champion Jarid Harper (Trevor Donovan) to train the young brat.
Following up, cliches ensue. One after the other the director loads his guns of conflicts with one major underdog cliche after other. The film suddenly changes tracks and becomes a sports drama and a coming-of-age story after the slimy sex-comedy tropes it initially pulls. However, the slight move can only save the film to an extent. When literally everything is happenstance and no one – including the lead actor is not interested in giving this his all, you just know every conflict, its resolution, and the end result.
While the ski races are mildly investing – thanks to the camera work, nothing else really makes you sit up and take notice. Larry Rippenkroeger tries every trick in the book – from emotional family reunions, uplifting working ethics, triumphant sport-movie morals, and even a love angle that borderlines cringe because of a woman-skier playing it tough in a man’s competition angle comes into play.
That said, one shouldn’t even expect anything from a film titled ‘Hot Water.’ At least, it isn’t selling itself as a genuinely moving piece of filmmaking. This is fairly okay if you are not hoarding any expectations against it.