REVIEW: No need to alert authorities on this ‘Hit and Run’

REVIEW: No need to alert authorities on this ‘Hit and Run’
Real-life couple Dax Shepard (left) and Kristen Bell play a happy couple whose lives grow awkwardly complicated when they hit the road in the film “Hit and Run.” Photo by Jeffrey Reed

If you are thinking about hitting the road to see “Hit and Run,” you might want to save the time and the gas as the experience could be a bumpy ride. 

With the exception of the title and the premise, I knew little to nothing about this film prior to seeing it.

From what I was able to ascertain from the small pieces of information I discovered, this project seemed to be a hodgepodge of elements from various genres: the light-hearted relationship trappings of a romantic comedy, the edge-of-your-seat thrill factor of an action movie, and the episodic character study of a road journey. An eclectic yet intriguing concept, so I decided to take a shot at it. Now that I have sampled this three-ingredient recipe, my consensus reads thusly: an overdose of ambition overtakes what could have been a decent story and emerges as your average garbled half-good/half-bad result instead.

When Annie (Kristen Bell) receives a job opportunity she can’t afford to pass up, her boyfriend, Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard), who harbors a secretive past, decides to drive her to Los Angeles on what seems to be the ultimate road trip, risking his witness protection program status.

On the one end of the spectrum, the chemistry between the two leads and the car chases are better than I had expected. The exhilarating intensity of the vehicular action is elevated to a higher caliber due to the slick camerawork and editing, which imbue these literal thrill rides with fluid consistency.

Every turn taken by Bell and Shepard’s car will undoubtedly set off an adrenaline rush, and the excitement does not stop there after additional characters’ modes of transportation enter the playing field.

By the way, the rapport between Shepard and Bell (the two are engaged to be married in real-life) neither wavers nor proceeds in a forced manner; I actually believe these two persons took the time to get to understand their cinematic counterparts and connect with their emotions without sacrificing the organic qualities. Trust me, this couple is not one whose misadventures you would want to miss out on.

On the other end of the spectrum, “Hit and Run” features multiple instances in which the humor goes one step too far and delves into crude territory. Something that co-director and writer Shepard may have brought over from his days on the show “Jackass.”

For example, somewhere towards the middle of the film, our protagonists stumble upon a motel room filled with elderly customers while they are in a highly…err, unabashed situation.

That kind of shock value serves as an obstruction and can cause faces, regardless of the sensitivity of their eyes, to turn away in disgust.

The fact that this off-color humor is repeated a second time does not do wonders for the narrative.

I also get the impression that Bradley Cooper cannot convey the appropriate personality his antagonist requires.

What is needed here is someone who desires revenge for the betrayal he experienced in the past. But no, he just has to choose the easy way out and become the punk who has had a bad day and wants to take it out on the world. And that is what you call doing a half-decent job.

If I had to choose the words to describe the casting choices here, it would be “hit-and-miss.” While Shepard and Bell are top-notch, and with Tom Arnold as one of two supporting actors whose humorous moments proved to be worthy of laughing my head ofr; the other, Michael Rosenbaum proves a sight for sore eyes ever since “Smallville” concluded its tenth and final season.

The rest of the casting isn’t so fortunate.

As I mentioned earlier, Bradley Cooper veers off in the wrong direction for his gang leader adversary and transforms into a sad excuse for a villainous role. Kristin Chenoweth devotes much of her screen time to either prattling in her office or receiving back massages, and she offers nothing else beyond that. Beau Bridges does not even get any screen time until the very end.

“Hit and Run” can’t be considered a terrible film, yet at the same time it does not qualify as a good one either. It simply is what it is: Something that could have been above average, but instead materializes as an average endeavor. Should you decide to disregard my reaction to the encounter, however, feel free to drive down this highway at your own risk.

2 out of 4

“Hit and Run”

Where: Wide Release
When: Now playing
Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Rating: R

 

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