Hit & Run Leaves Lots of Casualties

Every so often a movie comes along that almost defies explanation concerning how bad it is. Earlier this year, the horror genre had Cabin in the Woods, an overloaded, badly directed crap fest. Now the comedy genre has its own reigning king: Hit & Run.

Hit & Run is a mindless story about a guy in witness (witless?) protection program who leaves his U.S. Marshal’s protection to take his girlfriend to a job interview in L.A.  The couple is then pursued by the girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, the guy’s marshal, and the crooks that he snitched on.

Dax Shepard writes and co-directed this story about a loser with no jobs and no friends, who manages to land Kristen Bell. Only a man-child like Shepard could conceive of a story where a loser is put as the hero while the successful beautiful girlfriend is made as a nag and career obsessed. How did the snitch and the P.H. D. in non-violent conflict resolution even meet? The plot is overly thicken by the couple being chased by at least three other parties including the inept Marshal and the three crooks. Adding the ex-boyfriend was overkill, and I certainly wanted the ex (played by Lollipop Chainsaw’s Michael Rosenbaum) to rescue her from Charlie Bronson and the resulting mess of gunfire and car chases.

The lack of intelligent humor kills the film. The viewers are supposed to be entertained by escaping mini vans, flying bowling balls, and naked elderly people. Even when the movie has opportunity for any depth, it comes up short. When asked why he chose the name Charles Bronson, instead of an ironic, funny answer, Charlie mumbles something about not being that person anymore. (The Charles Bronson reference here is the notorious UK prisoner who is known for his violence and for kidnapping a prison guard. For an interesting look at the guy’s life check out the well-acted movie Bronson staring a naked Tom Hardy). Any self revelation or humor is quickly gone.

Bradley Copper manages to insert some laughs. Cooper plays Alex Dmitri, the crook who Charlie put away. As always, Cooper tackles his role with aplomb and gives depth to the crook. It’s the characters love for dogs and the ensuing madness that is the bright spot of this movie. Plus, props must be given to the costumer, make-up artists, and hairstylist who managed to make Cooper unattractive.

Coopers role, like the rest of the cast, was written by Shepard to their acting strengths. But this doesn’t lead to quality acting. Bell is not at her comedic best and comes off as nagging instead of any of the strong humor we saw so much of in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Tom Arnold totally overacts, and I am left to wonder if they gave him vodka and Red Bull and then set him loose on the set. Shepard himself tries to channel Owen Wilson but can’t manage the charm or the cuteness. The only other light besides Cooper is Jason Bateman’s small part as a U.S. Marshall.

The film had two directors (David Palmer assists Shepard) but like so many movies with two directors, it did not help the quality of the film. Like Silent House, the two directors did nothing to keep out weird shots and angels and keeping the story cohesive. The worst parts are the car chases. Unlike the fun absurdity of The Fast & The Furious, these car chase like substance and luster. They are filmed oddly and have a peculiar line-up. One scene included a Corvette, a station wagon and a mini van chasing each other on and off road while amazingly they are all keeping up with each other.

The only irony in the movie wasn’t intended. Bell’s character nags Charlie about what type of person is attracted to his soupped up get away-car, implying he is not better than the red neck thief they encounter. This becomes the running theme of the movie: There has to be an audience who will happily watch a car rev and spin in endless circles before a car chase. There has to be an audience that thinks full frontal elderly nudity is funny. There has to be an audience that finds Dax Shepard funny. But what does that say about the person Shepard is? And what does that say about what he thinks about his friends?