HIT AND RUN – The Review
Here’s a new film that’s essentially a nostalgic trip down ‘ grindhouse’ lane. Or perhaps it’s more like a gravel-churning trek to the old drive-in. The “passion pit” was the showcase for the muscle car action-chase flick genre that may have begun with the success of Robert Mitchum’s moonshine-runner epic THUNDER ROAD. This spawned countless imitators over the last few decades with DIRTY MARY/ CRAZY LARRY, the original GONE IN 60 SECONDS and Ron Howard’s one-two punch of EAT MY DUST ( with the immortal ad line ” Ronny Howard pops the clutch and tells Smokey to eat my dust” ) and Ron’s feature directing debut GRAND THEFT AUTO. The genre hit its zenith in 1977 with the monster box office smash, Hal Needham’s SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT ( and its two sequels ). Well, now comic actor Dax Shepard ( TV’s Parenthood ) has decided to put his own spin ( ouch! ) on the high-speed thriller with HIT AND RUN. And like Howard, he not only behind the wheel, but behind the camera ( he co-directed, co-edited, produced and wrote it…and used many of his own vehicles-whew! ). So, is this a fun high-octane romp or a noisy, gas-guzzlin’ vanity project spinning its wheels?
Shepard plays a guy in the witness protection program, now called Charles Bronson ( yep, he chose the new name ), sharing a rustic country house with his beautiful college teacher girlfriend Annie ( Kristen Bell ) in a small southwestern village. All’s pretty quiet except for the periodic visits from the Marshall assigned to him, Randy ( Tom Arnold ). Then one day everything changes. Anne is told by her boss at the small community college, Debbie ( Kristin Chenoweth ) that the perfect job has opened up for her at a big university in Los Angeles. In fact Debbie will fire her unless she goes there for the interview. What’s her beau Charlie to do? He’s hiding out from LA folks! CB heeds love’s call and takes his suped-up ’67 Lincoln out of the barn. He’ll drive her to the interview. Unfortunately Annie’s dopey ex, Gil ( Michael Rosenbaum ) gets a look at the classic car and has his police brother ( Jess Rowland ) look up the plate number. Thanks to the good ole’ interweb Gil learns of his rival’s past and contacts the guy that was put away by Charlie’s testimony, Alex ( Bradley Cooper ). And so, Charlie and Annie race to LA to make the interview while trying to stay a step ahead of the vengance-seeking Alex and his crew along with the ” just doing his duty” Randy.
Pretty simple set-up, isn’t it? Well, the car stunts are pretty impressive. Unfortunately the film stalls when they’re not trying to outrun each other. Annie spends most of her time trying to educate the not PC Charlie during the trip. These exchanges quickly become tedious. Although they’re a real life couple, there’s not a lot of chemistry between Shepard and Bell. The banal dialogue doesn’t help. Burt Reynolds and Sally Field are Tracy and Hepburn compared to these two. At times the script strains for laughs as characters mistakenly barge into a motel room being used for a senior citizen orgy…twice ( wrinkled genitalia is too hilarious! ). Bell is appealing as always, but as a leading man Shepard’s kind of a blank. The supporting cast fares better. Cooper emits a dangerous, but cool vibe under her surfer dude dred wig. Rosenbaum’s an entertainingly jealous doofus. Chenoweth has a lot of fun as a lewd, snarky motormouth. The big surprise is Arnold who gets big laughs as the eternally frustrated, walking, driving one-man-disaster area. Randy’s an inspired comic creation. Too bad the film’s not up to his level. HIT AND RUN is an action comedy that quickly runs out of gas.
Overall Rating: 2 Out of 5 Stars