Genre: Crime/Comedy Director: David Palmer, Dax Shepard Cast: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Kristin Chenoweth, Beau Bridges, David Koechner, Joy Bryant, Ryan Hansen Runtime: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: M18 (Nudity and Coarse Language) Released By: Cathay-Keris Films Official Website: http://www.facebook.com/hitandrunmovie
Opening Day: 18 October 2012
Synopsis: HIT & RUN is the story of Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard), a former getaway driver who busts out of the Witness Protection Program to drive his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) to Los Angeles so she can land on her dream job. Their road trip grows awkwardly complicated, when they are chased by the feds (led by Tom Arnold), and increasingly dangerous, when Charlie’s former gang of criminals (led by Bradley Cooper) enter the fray.
Movie Review: For a movie that purports to be a more urgent take on the usual chase comedy, most notably by setting up its lead as an ex bank robber hunted by his former accomplices after he testified against them to escape prison, Hit & Run never really threatens any of its characters with danger. It’s worried more about shaping its characters into sitcom stereotypes and slapping them into one funny situation after another than it is about creating a logical and compelling story around its premise. Which isn’t necessarily bad because Hit & Run actually manages to be really entertaining with this format, though its near obsessive focus on comedy certainly prevents it from being fulfilling.
Yul Perkins (Dax Shepard) is forced to take up the pseudonym of Charlie Bronson and hide out in a remote town as part of a witness protection programme. When girlfriend (Kristen Bell) gets a lucrative job offer from Los Angeles, Yul decides to break the rules of the programme so that he can drive his girlfriend to her interview. But this leads to its own set of problems: The people he helped put away in prison have just been released and he risks putting himself into the path of revenge. His girlfriend’s jealous ex and Yul’s buffoonish caretaker cop (Tom Arnold), both eager to keep the couple within stalking distance, join the chase, pushing the already stressful road trip into the realm of absurdity.
Reality intrudes, like it so often does, and soon Yul finds himself entangled in all manners of trouble. But given that each character is blessed with generous amounts of silliness, Hit & Run becomes less about reality and more about cartoon logic later on. Here is an ex criminal who constantly complains about having to blow his cover, now suddenly tearing across the country at breakneck speed and in a very noticeable car with an expired license plate. And while he’s at it, why not register a Facebook page with his real name? Because that’s what someone under a witness protection programme does, right? Yul’s caretaker cop is equally inept, charged with a hilarious tendency to get het up over the slightest things.
There’s a very obvious pattern to Hit & Run’s design: events happen and characters behave the way they do not because any of them fit into the narrative, but because the script wants them to. These events are funny and these characters are dumb only when it’s convenient for them to be, resulting in very awkward shifts in tones as the movie tries to clumsily stitch together just-for-laughs parts and move-the-story-forward parts. In many ways, Hit & Run resembles a sitcom, populated with events that have limited relevance to anything outside the specific scenes and characters who have broad, humour-based appeal.
Make no bones about it, this is a movie that embraces whole-heartedly the idea of a comedy, sometimes in very captivating ways and sometimes in every unfortunate ways. The general lack of tension means more time is spent just enjoying the flow of the movie than investing in the intricacies of the premise. But it’s a little too lazy to think that anything bad would ever happen to these characters, and you end up wistfully wishing that Hit & Run had been created with more ambition, striking a balance between capturing the liveliness of a comedy and achieving the potential of the promising set-up. Some of the best moments involve a four-way car chase on an airfield, but the movie never gets around to anything more than that.
To say that Hit & Run is bad would be cruel. Depending on what you value in your movie, Hit & Run could either be one the funniest movies this year or one of the most carelessly planned movies. Like Rian Johnson’s Looper, Hit & Run chooses one aspect of itself to focus on, runs riot over the concept and rides roughshod over other ideas. It’s not an approach to filmmaking that appeals to everyone, but if humour (and only humour!) is what you’re looking for here, Hit & Run may be one of the most entertaining shows you’ll ever watch this year.
(Hit & Run is good for one thing and only one thing: humour. It’s drastically less appealing if you’re looking for anything more than that)