Review: Hit and Run
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
Hit and Run. Both the name of the film and how it leaves you feeling...
Have you ever been at a party and thought of a story when you’re drunk? You know, the story where every punch line is funny and every storyline, no matter how absurd, makes perfect sense? Hit and Run feels like one of those stories.
Co-Director Dax Shepard, from the TV series Parenthood, plays Yul Perkins aka Charles Bronson, a name given to him by the Witness Protection Plan. Yul/Charlie is a former getaway driver living the quiet life in a small town deep in the US countryside, hidden away from the old gang he ratted on in LA. Since adopting his new life he has fallen for local school teacher Annie Bean (Kristen Bell), a non-violent conflict resolution graduate who is forced to attend an interview for the job of her dreams by her boss. In order to get Annie to the interview, Yul has to risk it all and break his Witness Protection in a mad cap race back to LA in his Lincoln Continental getaway car.
The happy couple are tailed on their journey by Annie’s clingy ex-boyfriend Gil, played by Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor from Smallville. Yes, he has hair!), a brilliantly played creep whose overbearing sincerity creates some truly cringe-worthy moments.
Also tagging along for the ride is incompetent US Marshall Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold), a man with a tendency for discharging his firearm at the most inappropriate moments, and flying into bouts of embarrassed rage at his own clumsiness. Randy is a frustrating character that has a habit of flattening any tension that has built up with his goofball antics.
There are few surprises in this film, and the audience quickly twigs that Parker’s softly spoken ‘witness’ is not as innocent as he’d like his irritatingly diplomatic girlfriend to believe, and soon enough a more threatening trio, led by Bradley Cooper, are also on their tail. Cooper plays gang leader Alex Dimitri, a dreadlock laden, animal loving monster who is introduced to us force feeding a man dog food at gun point and stealing his pet. The character is one of the real successes of this film, a sinister role with shades of Heath Ledger’s unhinged Joker a likely inspiration.
Hit and Run is well put together in parts. There are genuine laugh out loud moments during the film and the car chases are excellently executed, a crash involving Randy, a pipe and a bowling ball being a particular highlight. The comedy moments come, if not thick and fast, at least at enough speed to maintain viewer attention, and there is enough slapstick and one liners to keep everyone entertained.
The key problem with this film is its complete crisis of identity and genre rootlessness. Billed as an action, comedy and romance, the film never really defines itself with the usual conventions and ends up feeling like a jack of all three trades, but master of none. The plot winds its way through a series of dramatic (ish) challenges for the fairly romantic leading couple, many of which stretch their relationship to breaking point, all to the tune of moderately funny jokes. It is this sense of 'average' within each of its genres that stops the film from truly reaching its potential.
The entire film feels like the director started with a list of jokes and tried to ram them all into a story; and the plot is also bloated by a plethora of unnecessary characters like Gil’s brother Terry, a clichéd gay police officer and his partner Angella whose only purpose seems to be to shoehorn in a running joke about the gay-dar style Pouncer app.
The film ends very abruptly with the race to Annie’s interview with bong smoking Dean, Sandy Osterman (Sean Hayes). In the credits there were several superfluous scenes that don’t really seem to wrap up the film in any way and felt like an apology for not putting much effort into the ending.
Even with the uninspired plot and slightly clunky feel, Hit and Run is certainly not a total flop for the independent movie industry. Produced for only two million dollars, half of which was on the surreal soundtrack, it delivers enough laughs and action to keep everyone entertained.
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