Entertainment » Movies

Hit & Run

by Jake Mulligan
Contributor
Tuesday Aug 21, 2012
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Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell in "Hit & Run"
Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell in "Hit & Run"  

Do-it-all handyman Dax Shepard stars, directs, writes, and even edited his new film "Hit & Run," but it still lacks the slightest feeling of individuality. As mild mannered working-man Charles Bronson, he’s living the good life with his sociology-graduate girlfriend (Kristen Bell.) Unfortunately, his pre-witness-protection era days (you knew that name couldn’t be real), come back into play once her job relocates them to LA, kicking off a long car chase away from the bad guys (most notably, a dreadlocked Bradley Cooper).

And so off we go into an hour-long chase scene, with comic relief characters like gay cops (because isn’t that hilarious?) and spurned ex’s driving along in tow as if this were a bland comedic take on "Convoy." It’s a B-list cast engaging in a story that exists for no reason but to provide B-grade stunts and B-grade car porn. Safe to say, if you’re part of the audience for this movie, you know it, and if you aren’t, you need to stay very far away.


Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell in "Hit & Run"  

Seriously, this is as gutter-brained and insubstantial as action movies come - it might as well skip the theatrical game and go straight to its eternal home of afternoon showings on the TNT network. It’s so cable-TV-trashy that it literally features Tom Arnold in a major role as comic relief.

It’s only hope is that you’re so endeared by the familiar faces (and by their ridiculous hairstyles), that you don’t begin to think about how stupid, nonsensical, and inane the narrative is. Example: Bell hates Dax’s violent tendency, but leaves him for her ex-husband - after her ex attacks Dax with a golf club, drawing blood.

And then there’s the way Cooper and his accomplices expect to rob Shepherd, murder him, then leave witnesses alive and still get away scot-free. What?


Bradley Cooper (foreground) in "Hit & Run"  

Cooper tries to achieve a sense of zaniness here, but it’s almost out-of-place in a film this bland. I kept expecting Dax’s character to be hiding angry, even sociopathic rage behind all those blank looks - turns out he’s just really generic. It’s somewhat interesting the way the two, once their chase finally wraps up an hour into the film, begin to bond and actually don’t seem to hate each other (because God knows we’re all tired of the ’betrayed partner is out for blood!’ thing.) But the film needs a 3rd act action scene, so that’s quickly tossed out the window so our characters can engage in tearing up the road with more skidmarks and donut moves. How exciting and original!

The film actually seems to be trying for a sense of progressiveness with Bell’s sociology-obsessed character - she scolds Shepard for using the word "fag," and basically does a feminist critique of the movie through her dialogue while the infractions themselves are occurring. We later even get a scene where Cooper blasts Shepard’s homophobia. It’s an intriguing twist, but never committed to - the film’s lame gags about a gay cop and his hookup-finder app (called Pouncer, of course) are about as inclusive as "The Hangover." It’s a bunch of lip service to ideas Shepard would rather not engage in.

But even if it were sociologically approved, this would still be a dumb Tom Arnold comedy, and that’s a conviction not even the fastest vehicle can outrun. Even when compared to other thematically safe car-chase-driven American studio action/comedies, this can’t hold a candle to "The Fast and the Furious." The best joke here is the idea that people would pay to see this movie.


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