Admittedly, we had fairly low expectations upon seeing “Hit and Run” (R) considering it was written by, co-directed and starred Dax Shepard. With this in mind, the film was surprisingly tolerable and was even at times (gulp) entertaining. We quickly learn of the premise, a relatively cookie cutter plot that sees a man hiding his criminal past from his current girlfriend, thereby testing their love. However, former getaway driver Charlie Bronson (Shepard) has been placed in the witness protection program, unbeknownst to recent girlfriend Annie (Kristen Bell). Meanwhile, Tom Arnold plays an inept Federal Marshall assigned to keep Charlie safe and out of trouble. When Annie is offered up her dream job in Los Angeles, Charlie decides to risk everything he’s managed to escape to move to Los Angeles for the chance to keep her happy. While in route, Charlie’s former gang led by leader Bradley Cooper resurfaces threatening to thwart the couple’s attempt at escaping. A subsequent high speed, high energy chase ensues as Charlie and Annie attempt to outrun this random mix of lawless cohorts and Federal Agents.
For the most part, while the film sports a nice collection of talented actors, the performances are pretty ordinary. It seems that Shepard uses his directorial debut as a means of hooking his friends and girlfriend up with major roles. Bradley Cooper is probably the primary culprit, not palatable as a murderous bank robber. Perhaps jaded by the previous films that we’ve enjoyed watching him in, Cooper’s dreadlock-laden appearance simply do not make for a believable ex-con character, thus making him unconvincing here. Arnold meanwhile, despite a small and predictable role, does offer up probably the most comic relief of the film. Kristen Bell is probably at the head of the class here but comes off as too complacent at times, requiring too great a suspension of disbelief to be relatable or even rooted for. Shepard the actor however, is his usual slightly lovable but inevitably irritable self. The real-life couple’s chemistry can definitely be seen on screen and helps pace an otherwise middling movie. Also worth mentioning are the brief cameos from actors such as Kristin Chenoweth amongst others that we’ll leave to surprise, that provided some necessary laughs.
Nobody in their right mind is heading to the theater for “Hit and Run” expecting a cinematic masterpiece. But what we’re left with here is a relatively fun, relatively entertaining movie with a familiar set of faces mired by a story that we just couldn’t get invested in. Despite the grossly redundant and donut filled car chases, “Hit and Run” does manage to keep your interest and has its funny parts, but should ultimately be watched at home – not in the theater.
“Hit and Run” is rated R, starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, and Bradley Cooper, has a runtime of 95 minutes, and is released in theaters everywhere today- Wednesday, August 22nd.
- Taylor Vesely