Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hit & Run

Directed by Dax Shepard and David Palmer.
2012. Rated R, 100 minutes.
Dax Shepard
Joy Bryant
Kristin Chenoweth
Michael Rosenbaum
Ryan Hansen

Charlie Bronson (Shepard), not his real name, is living a quiet life in a small town with his girlfriend Annie (Bell). He doesn’t have much choice in lifestyle since he’s in witness program. Annie informs him she needs to go to Los Angeles really quickly for a lucrative job opportunity. After some arguing he reluctantly agrees. The only problem is that L.A. is where the people he’s hiding from live. If they find him, they will kill him. Thanks to Annie’s jealous ex Gil (Rosenbaum), they know he’s coming. And since Charlie didn’t get permission to make the trip, his buddy, and incompetent fed Randy (Arnold), is also in pursuit.

The elements are all in place for a fun action romp, but the pieces doen’t quite come together sufficiently. Writer/co-director/star Dax Shepard’s Charlie is an interesting character. He does his best to endow the character with empathetic qualities. At times it works, other times it doesn’t. The same goes for Kristen Bell’s Annie. She’s presented as a romantic, and somewhat naïve. He’s also a romantic and trying to protect her innocence. However, their arguments are more annoying than heart wrenching. This is even more problematic than normal because it’s all presented as a comedy. Though each person makes valid points, neither says anything funny.

Comedy is an issue throughout. There are moments of hilarity, but many of the jokes fall flat. This is especially the case with Tom Arnold’s character. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for slapstick involving guns, but his bungling with firearms quickly grows tiresome. Other officers of the law aren’t much brighter. Most of their dialogue revolves around a cell phone app for locating nearby (and horny) homosexuals. Again, a funny moment here and there, but largely just repetitive. The best joke, and we even get it twice, involves a hotel room full of naked seniors.

All of this leads us to Bradley Cooper in the bad guy role. Like everyone and everything else in the movie, he’s presented in a comedic tone but almost never makes us laugh. Therefore, we’re left to marvel at how evil he is. Yes, he’s a bad guy. Still, he doesn’t really set himself apart from other movie villains. Well, that’s not entirely true. His appearance is reminiscent of Gary Oldman’s in True Romance. In keeping with the look, he has a black girlfriend, Neve played by Joy Bryant. When we first meet him, he has a confrontation with a very large and angry black man. A physical altercation between the two, with Cooper coming out on top is expected and wouldn’t normally matter much except as a way to establish his badness. However, him dragging said black man along the ground by wrapping a chain around the dude’s neck and force-feeding him dog food is too far over the top, regardless of who he’s sleeping with. It also grates against the rest of the movie’s overt political correctness.

Hit & Run fares better in the action department. Much of the fun is had during the various chase scenes. They’re fun and create a palpable sense of danger. I would love to have seen much more of Charlie’s old suped up Lincoln than we do, but that’s really my only complaint in that department. Overall, these chases make the movie somewhat watchable. However, it is still very uneven. It’s never so terrible we have to turn it off. On the other hand, we wouldn’t be horribly upset if someone else did.

MY SCORE: 5.5/10

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