[Review] – Hit And Run

19 Sep

Title: Hit and Run
Year: 2012
Directors: Dax Shepard and David Palmer
Writer: Dax Shepard
Starring: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Kristin Chenoweth, Tom Arnold, Bradley Cooper
MPAA Rating: R, pervasive language including sexual references, graphic nudity, some violence and drug content
Runtime: 100 min
IMDb Rating: 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Metacritic: 50

I like Dax Shepard, I think he’s a really solid actor as part of the amazing ensemble of NBC‘s Parenthood, a show I’m a huge fan of. He’s also one half of one of Hollywood’s most adorable and cute couples with Kristen Bell, another actress I’m very fond of. So here’s a film that Mr. Shepard co-directed, wrote and stars in and that also has Ms. Bell in the cast, as well as Bradley Cooper and Kristin Chenoweth, who I like as well, and Tom Arnold, who I’m decidedly much less of a fan of. I thought I may have fun with Hit and Run, but that was just a failed enterprise on my behalf, I couldn’t get into this film one bit.

The whole thing just didn’t add up to much; the direction was absolutely shoddy, the action-y set-pieces were mediocrely done and the writing was horribly complacent at times. The real life couple also play one here, with Mr. Shepard being Charlie and Ms. Bell playing Annie; he’s an ex-getaway driver who’s now part of the witness protection program but who bolts for Los Angeles to drive her so that she can have a shot at getting her dream job. As you might imagine things go horribly wrong, with both their criminal friends of the past, led by a dread-locked Mr. Cooper, as well as the authorities coming up on their tail, led by Mr. Arnold in one of his desperate-to-be-funny performances that fall awfully short of the mark.

When I saw the trailer for this I remember thinking that it didn’t look great but also having a part of me maybe possibly imagining it turning out at least somewhat decent. This isn’t a totally wreck of a film (Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 stars, even) but I just couldn’t find anything to like here. What you should in theory love here are the cars, most of which were borrowed from Mr. Shepard’s own personal collection; and the vehicles on display sure are gorgeous, but the fact is that Mr. Shepard alongside his co-director David Palmer (no, not the President from 24) do nothing of real notice with the rides so their presence is pretty much for naught.

You just know that Mr. Shepard was indeed going for this True Romance by-way-of Gone in Sixty Seconds kind of shindig, just as you know that he did it with the best of intentions, wanting to create this fun throwback to those flicks. Obviously, those are great intentions and looking at the cars that Mr. Shepard has in his collection here you know the guy is probably crazy about car chase sequences in classic movies. But then you see how they’re done here and you just can’t help but think that he was probably disappointed; the chase sequences here look downright amateurish, with all those cheap editing tricks that take away the glorious feeling of seeing one of those scenes and know that some stuntman actually did those awesome tricks.

Don’t even start questioning why Charlie just had to drive Annie even though it was violating the requirements of his program and she could have driven herself or taken a bus or something and none of this would have happened (yes, she doesn’t know he’s in witness protection, but still, he could have gotten out of it). Don’t question that because Hit and Run is not really the kind of film that worries itself with such logic, it just needed that to happen so that it could exist as a film. I’m not against problems with the plot or logic (I did, after all, give Prometheus an A+) but here there’s just nothing to take your mind off those problems.

The chemistry between Mr. Shepard and Ms. Bell is, unsurprisingly, tremendous, as anyone who’s seen them interact in interviews or the like as a real-life lovey-dovey twosome could correctly anticipate. Bradley Cooper, who’s currently garnering some Oscar buzz for his role in Silver Linings Playbook, is playing this totally ridiculous role and yet having so much fun with it, being totally game and actually scoring some decent laughs here. They’re the reason why I’m not failing this movie, but the fact remains that every time it hits a nice run with scenes involving these characters it reverts to some silly twist and/or another excuse to have cars chasing after each other, and, like I said, those scenes were pretty poorly executed.

As far as the actual comedy in here goes, I just thought it was pretty poor. I used the word “complacent” before when describing Mr. Shepard’s screenplay, because it just feels kind of full of itself in how it wants to be both funny but also have these soul-searching type of scenes and finish off in a totally trite manner. Of course films can pull that off, but in Hit and Run the funny moments are just this gross and stereotypical comedy and the schmaltzy moments don’t add up with it and are stereotypes on their own right.

Again, I applaud the fact that Mr. Shepard went all-in to make this film with an undeniably throwback kind of affair, with a mild budget and a muscle cars galore. It wanted to show these awesome car chases, it wanted to make everybody laugh and it wanted to do it all with a bit of heart. Noble intentions, for sure, it just didn’t necessarily succeed at all (or any) of them. Hit and Run takes forever to reach from Point A to Point B, I really didn’t like it even though I liked the actors; I want more films to be made with this level of love for the project, but I also want them to be better.

Grade: C


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