Dax Shepard takes over creative control for his latest film Hit & Run, in which he stars, directs and writes. The film was also co-directed by David Palmer, but from start to finish Hit & Run certainly feels less like its own creation and more like a rip-off of much better romance-on-the-run flicks like the late Tony Scott‘s True Romance. It features everything from the quirky dialogue to the musical cues that keep replaying throughout the film. The problem Hit & Run smacks into is the lack of chemistry between the leads, its co-stars and even its cameo appearances. Nothing gels, instead everything feels forced together like sandpaper and bare skin.
Charlie Bronson (haha get it?) (Dax Shepard) is a relocated man living under the Witness Protection Plan. He’s fell in love with a girl named Annie (Kristen Bell) and he’ll do anything to make her happy, even if that anything means relocating back to Los Angeles, where he left behind a life of bank robberies and backstabbing. Back in LA Charlie was known as Yul and he had a friend (Bradley Cooper) that he sold out to the cops for immunity and a clean slate.
Annie really wants a job out in LA, so Charlie decides that she’s worth almost getting killed for. His Protection Officer (Tom Arnold) highly advices against the move, but he knows Charlie is going to do what Charlie wants, so he follows them closely and not that quietly.
Hit & Run isn’t so much a road trip movie as it is a crazed romantic comedy with two arrogant leading characters that think the world of each other. There’s some brief violence and suspense as Charlie and Annie first encounter Bradley Cooper‘s character, but things are never given a chance to simmer or continue. Right when you think a car chase is going to start the film takes a complete change in direction and stops for burgers and exchange of subtle chatter that comes into play again at a later time.
Shepard sprinkles in a lot of subtle dialogue that is supposed to come across as different and clever, but really only feels like a bunch of idiots trying too hard to make a joke that is initially funny, but instantly washed away by the repetitive nature of the film. There’s a lot of reused jokes and gags that weren’t all that funny in the first place. Tom Arnold gets an extensive gag that involves him misfiring his weapon and while it was originally sort of amusing watching him stumble around for minutes on end, it quickly becomes evident that there’s just not enough broad material to make a full-length film.
It doesn’t help when the two leads have wooden and awkwardly tense chemistry. Dax Shepard plays Charlie Bronson with the biggest imposed bad ass persona that feels as real as a temporary tattoo and Kristen Bell tries to be the funny one of the pair, but ends up being that annoying wise ass that never understands the gravity of any situation. She rants about her moral objectives and relationships and then she tries leaving at the first sign of trouble. It represents a weak character anchored by an unsuitable actress that just isn’t right for the material.
Bradley Cooper has a smallish role that feels like an inside joke between cast members. I’m not sure why he signed onto the movie, aside from it being produced by the Wedding Crashers producers. He must be good friends with Shepard, Bell or Palmer, because I just can’t see why else he’d take on such an underdeveloped and poorly utilized role, especially after recent success in Limitless and The Hangover Part II.
Hit & Run isn’t a horrible film that will be stained in your memory for some time to come. It’s actually a very painless experience, but it’s also a forgettable one too. It tries too hard to be funny, when it could have gotten by on being slightly funny. There are some good jokes in the film, but they’re almost always cancelled out by a continuing joke that goes too far every single time. If you want to start nitpicking then you’ll want to know that Hit & Run doesn’t run on logic, especially when the film’s central character is a former getaway driver that somehow can’t manage to drive away from any of the 15 or 20 people that chase him throughout the film. Embarrassing little details like this never get polished up, making Hit & Run sort of inattentive.
Hit & Run feels more like an Apple commercial than an actual movie. When it does try becoming a movie it quickly starts referencing True Romance and other, much better movies, without ever trying to add its own unique spin. Shepard and co. picked a really weird time to release such a tame and uninitiated film that barely gets by on good looks and fast cars.
Hit & Run – 6/10