Enjoying the Ride
The trailer was cut in a way that made this film look much better than it was, with action combined with offensive humour that relied on stereotypes for laughs. If you're old and if you're Filipino, I'm not sure what inspired writer Dax Shepard to craft such episodes, but they certainly were in quite bad taste, considering he's not Sacha Baron Cohen in one of his deliberate provocative roles, having to co-direct this film with David Palmer and star in it as its lead protagonist Charlie Bronson.
Or Yul Perrkins, since his identity had to be changed once he entered a witness protection programmed, ready to testify against one time his former group of bank robbers, consisting of Alex (Bradley Cooper in dreadlocks), ex-fiancee Neve (Joy Bryant) and Alan (Ryan Hansen). Maintaining a low profile in a small town under the watchful eye of Calamity James US Marshal Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold), the film opens as we see him already in a relationship with Annie Bean (Kristen Bell, Dax's real life girlfriend, also serving as producer), who is being offered a teaching position in LOs Angeles. Breaking his cover to send her there and to lead a new life, Hit and Run becomes a road trip movie, where the couple has a jealous ex-boyfriend Gil Rathbinn (Michael Rosenbaum), two cops (Jess Rowland and Carly Hatter) and Alex and gang all going after them to further pursue their respective selfish interests.
But this film is something of a mixed bag, with pacing quite all over the place, and episodes that made it look like a 101 guide to a happy relationship. Underneath all the usual noise that pepper the romantic-action-comedy, Hit and Run had moments where it played out like a long session with a relationship therapist, where the couple had to pour out their inner most demons and fears, and look for the best of advice that's being dished out in order to rescue their relations. As Charles had kept his real identity and reason under witness protection a secret, each revelation proved to be a natural surprise for Annie, and become a crossroads of sorts whether it's time to continue sticking together, or bail.
Perhaps one of the best advice dished out is the notion of minding one's past and having one's relationship paralyzed because of it, or to continue with the present knowing that all walls and masks have been pulled down, and look forward into the future, making the best out of situations. This becomes the running theme in the movie as the couple try to escape from elements of the past, and through this ordeal determine whether they are better off at the end of it, or otherwise. And there are occasions where the dialogue is a little bit stiff, and the two going through the motions and their lines, even as the characters banter their insecurities and stereotyping. This despite having to share a real life, current relationship, but we see no chemistry coming through.
It's the supporting characters that steal the show from the leads, so thank goodness for that to keep us distracted from the rather uninteresting plotting. Michael Rosenbaum was sure as creepy as can be playing the ex who cannot let go, and being the catalyst that sparked off the entire chase, while Jess Rowland who plays his sheriff brother was quite the hoot in a pursuit of his own for reasons best kept under wraps. Tom Arnold though was a little bit too trying in his role as a calamity james type of officer with constant firearms problems, and Bradley Cooper probably had a field day with his chief villain role that didn't seem all too threatening.
For those into cars (most of which here are owned by Dax Shepard), then Hit and Run would be your kind of movie with a number of chase sequences that didn't offer much other than for the vehicles on display, from BMWs to souped up Lincolns, to burn serious rubber along roads and dirt tracks. The trailer made this movie seem a little fascinating, and I guess kudos to whoever dangled the carrot, but it failed to make it count when relied upon to deliver on its promise. It's certainly hit and run indeed.