Aug 23, 2012
You know that video that went around a few months ago where Dax Shepard presented Kristen Bell a sloth for a little birthday cuddle, and she promptly had an adorable crying fit? Instead of catching Hit and Run, you’re better off just watching that for 100 minutes, interspersed with the car chase scenes from your favorite action movie.
Hit and Run stars the real-life couple as a Mutt and Jeff pair living in a small town in California. Annie (Bell) is a professor who’s presented with the opportunity for a big city gig at Stanford. The catch is it’s in Los Angeles and her beloved Charlie (Shepard) can’t leave the city. Charlie Bronson is in the Witness Protection Plan for testifying against his bank robbin’ buddies after a heist gone awry. Charlie was merely the getaway driver so his hands are relatively clean, but he’s on his former best friend’s sh*tlist for ratting them out. Plus, Annie’s ex Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) is obsessed with winning her back. Add in prison rape jokes, Bradley Cooper with a terrible wig of white boy dreads, and Tom Arnold as That Guy, the annoyingly goofy Federal Marshall assigned to protect Charlie and only who only succeeds in crashing his car and discharging his gun, and you’ve got a headache of a movie.
Besides its uncomfortably lingering jabs at prison, Hit and Run boasts a number of distasteful attempts at humor. It’s possible to make almost anything funny, but you must have talent to do it. This is not the case here. Kristin Chenoweth has a small part as Debbie, Annie’s boss, who encourages Annie to take the job because she deserves it. Debbie doesn’t, because she got trashed a lot in college, was date raped, had an abortion, and went to a state school. There’s another running joke about a Grindr-like app and a gay cop because it’s funny for a cop to be gay. The characters keep accidentally barging into a hotel room full of swingers that are of various ages and body types, because God forbid people who don’t look like Bell or Shepard have sex.
The only enjoyable aspect of the movie is the chemistry between Shepard and Bell, although one could hazard a guess that their little fights are based on real-life tiffs. (Based on the movie’s sensibilities, it wouldn’t be a far reach to imagine that Bell probably did have to teach Shepard why it wasn’t okay to say things were ”gay” instead of just uncool.) Their arguments about the present moment versus the past are interesting enough, but it seems pretty dumb that she was fine with him being in protective custody for who-knows-what-crime, only to suddenly freak out when she finds out what his crime really was or that he had a life before her (including a fiancée). How can she suddenly get mad at him for misrepresenting himself when she knew the whole time he was on the run from something? His new name is Charlie Bronson! Come on!
There are so many problems with this story, so many moments that fall flat, so many unfunny jokes beaten to death, so many moments of fuzzy logic that it’s confounding how it was actually made. Shepard wrote the screenplay and co-directed with David Palmer, and it looks serviceable enough. But someone needs to get the lovable and lovely Kristen Bell a new agent? yesterday.