Film Review – Hit & Run
I went into Hit & Run (2012) with the lowest possible expectations, and even then I’m not so sure it met them. This is one of those situations where you kind of wish a movie would either be very good or very bad. At least that way you can feel enthusiastic about it, whether your response is positive or negative. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. This is a middle-of-the-road outing that was neither terrible nor memorable, something that I was already forgetting about by the time I walked out of its screening. Yes, it has bright spots: there were a few funny moments, some of the car chase scenes were fun, and the chemistry between the lead actors worked well. But it lacked forward momentum, had very little suspense or excitement, and ended with a thud instead of a bang.
Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell headline as lovers Charlie and Annie. They have been dating for over a year, and a nice opening scene depicts the close bond the two share. Everything seems to be in perfect place for them to live happily ever after in Smalltown, U.H.A.—until Annie is given a job offer in Los Angeles she cannot possibly pass up. This throws things off kilter, especially given the fact that Charlie is currently in the Witness Protection Program, and the one place he must stay away from is the same place he must move to with Annie. As dangerous as this might sound, Charlie (being the gentleman that he is) risks it all and agrees to help Annie relocate. A question: who here actually thinks that the trip will go safely and be uneventful? Exactly.
Almost before they step out of their driveway, Charlie and Annie run into some big trouble. This is the main tension we’re given: seeing whether or not they will be able to survive the number of problems that stand between them and L.A. We have Randy (Tom Arnold), the U.H. Marshall assigned to protect Charlie while he is in witness protection, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), Annie’s overly clingy ex-boyfriend who shows up to be a constant nuisance, and let’s not forget Alex (Bradley Cooper), Charlie’s old friend and criminal, who is the reason Charlie had to run away from home in the first place. Throw in a couple of state troopers (Jess Rowland/Carly Hatter) and some random cameos, and we have a cast of characters so arbitrary it makes you wonder how they all ended up in the same movie to begin with.
There are some good things going on here. Dax Shepard wrote the screenplay and shared directing duties (with David Palmer). Shepard’s sense of humor translates well. Moments of dialogue were funny in their deadpan delivery and lack of political correctness. No race, religion, or sexual orientation is safe, and in the way Shepard’s jokes skewer just about everybody, he makes the comedy something all people can laugh at. The chemistry between Charlie and Annie felt like it came from an honest place. These are two people who can actually talk things out, even when they are arguing. They state their thoughts eloquently, whether it’s at home in bed or in the middle of a car chase/shootout. It’s refreshing to see a couple actually work things through and come to an understanding, instead of just holding it all in until it explodes in frustration. And it’s clear that Shepard is a car enthusiast. The entire plot is based around a road trip, with Charlie and Annie spending about 60-70% of their time behind the wheel of a beautiful muscle car.
Taken in a vacuum, there are solid pieces at play, but when put together as a whole, things start to fall apart. The plot is paper-thin and meanders endlessly, resulting in lack of energy. Individual scenes stand on their own, but do not flow well side-by-side. Randy, Gil, and the state troopers are throwaway characters. Yes, they give us some laughs, but they provide nothing in terms of story development. Poor Tom Arnold; he definitely tries his best with the role he is given, but his character is a borderline special-needs patient, so dumb and idiotic that we wonder how he was able to get a badge and a gun in the first place. The first car chase was fun and well-directed, but by the time we reach the third and fourth chase scenes, the repetitiveness kills whatever thrill we had initially. And the climax is almost non-existent. We figure that in an action-comedy, everything will build up to some sort of big moment. Even when the movie was literally ending, I was still hoping for that moment to come, but it never did.
Hit & Run has a few decent parts strung together by a plot that barely holds. As a writer, Shepard shows talent in creating individuals scenes, and we can tell that this comes from a personal perspective. I just wish those parts made a better end product. I’m sure people will find something to enjoy here, as I did. Sadly, though, what I liked was outweighed by what I didn’t like.
Final Grade: C+
Also, be sure to check out our interview with Dax Shepard & Kristen Bell.