Add 2 Fast 2 Furious to It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World. Toss in a sprinkle of Pulp Fiction, a pinch of Valley of the Dolls and, hell, a little Walk to Remember. Sound like a lot going on? Such is the recipe for David Palmer’s car-chase rom-dramedy, Hit and Run.
We open on Annie (Kristen Bell) and Charlie (Dax Shepard) in bed. He’s giving her a pep-talk to remind her that today is the only day that matters. Oops. He was wrong; Charlie’s in Witness Protection, on the run from his old gang leader (Bradley Cooper). Turns out that what happens in the past doesn’t always stay there, and now Charlie and Annie are in a race to L.A. to make amends before everyone ends up dead.
Along the way, we meet Randy (Tom Arnold), the US Marshall in charge of Charlie’s protection; Annie’s crazy ex-boyfriend; a gay sheriff looking to hook-up in the middle of nowhere; and a drug addled Kristen Chenoweth on a massage table.
The most disheartening thing about Hit and Run is the character development, or lack thereof. The sad cast is trapped in roles that require depth and explanation, but each is denied writing that does them justice or scenes that give them any shred of personality. Cooper breaks from his conventional cocky bad boy role in an attempt to portray a sociopathic gang leader in a jump suit. He chooses the wrong time to foray into character acting. The only believable character is Bell’s conventional “I’m a good, blonde girl trapped in a bad situation” flatline, because America has been bred to expect it.
Since the writing falls flat, most of the film relies on Arnold’s ineptness as a US Marshall (Uh-oh, he can’t control his gun or drive his minivan) and Chenoweth’s addiction to prescription drugs for cheap laughs. Physical comedy and unintelligible gay jokes abound! There are some naked old people in a motel room! Gross! Tom Arnold got in another car accident!
The car chases and action scenes are another in a long line of disappointments Hit and Run asks the audience to overlook. The film uses raw camera footage and lots of choppy shots to mask the fact that the driving wouldn’t even warrant a second look. Paul Walker is rolling over in his grave.
The rest of the film focuses on an uncomfortable attempt at gratuitous violence to really drive the point home. It often felt as though someone went through the script after it was in production and said “Let’s have someone get shot in the leg here,” and everyone said okay and then ordered Domino’s.
Hit and Run expends all of it’s energy trying to patch together remarkable portions of other movies, but always misses the mark. Instead, every piece of this Frankenstein creation is more distracting than the next. Hit and Run has it’s sights set on victory, but the engine stalls and the starter is just another hot girl waving her bra in the middle of the street.
HIT AND RUN
Directed by David Palmer & Dax Shepard. Starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Tom Arnold. Running time: 100 minutes. Rated R. Photo courtesy Primate Pictures.