If I was an actor in Hollywood and had a talent for writing, I would definitely write movie scripts with myself in mind. And that is exactly what actor and funny man Dax Shepard has done with his latest project “Hit and Run.”
Not only did he write the script and give himself and his fiancée, Kristen Bell, the starring roles, but in addition to penning the script, he also co-directed the film with past collaborator David Palmer. Now taking on so many roles can be daunting, but will all of his hard work pay off in the end? Read on and find out.
The story is set around Charlie Bronson (Shepard), who entered the witness protection program after a bank robbery. He was the getaway driver and the robbery went horribly wrong and an innocent person is killed. Charlie has to testify against one of his former gang members to avoid jail time and afterwards is moved from his native Los Angeles to a small town called Milton. He meets a wonderful girl, Annie (Kristen Bell), and starts a new life with her, and although she knows he is in the witness protection program, she believes he was an innocent bystander, not involved with the crime itself.
Charlie has a bumbling buffoon, Marshal Randy (Tom Arnold), who checks in with him weekly. However, the marshal can’t even handle his own gun without misfiring it constantly, so he doesn’t appear to be any help if there were to be any real danger. When Annie has the chance of a lifetime to get her own teaching program at a school in Los Angeles, Charlie decides to break out of his cover and drive her to Los Angeles instead of breaking up with her.
Things get complicated when Annie’s ex-boyfriend Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) discovers Charlie’s true identity and contacts Alex (Bradley Cooper), the friend he testified against, and informs him of his current whereabouts. What comes next is a full-blown chase as Charlie and Annie are on the run with Marshall Randy, Gil, Alex, and an odd-ball pair of state troopers hot on his trail.
While “Hit and Run” is a romantic comedy, it blends together multiple genres and of films to create something different. The first things that come to mind are road trip films and car chase movies, among others. The film never really establishes itself in one category and that ambivalence detracts from the film. Without a clear focus, the film jumps all over the place and it can be somewhat distracting. While it is cleverly written, and has many outrageous and funny moments, the style of comedy is not a typical one and won’t be for everyone. It reminds me of the dark, dry comedy approach seen in British comedies more than American ones.
I really did love the cast. The onscreen couple of Charlie and Annie exude a comfort level and connection that is hard to replicate outside of real live couples. While these performances won’t be winning any awards, it was good to see them onscreen together. The extended cast is full of secondary characters that are wild and outrageous, and that is why we enjoy them so much. Tom Arnold — whom I have never really been a fan of — has one of the funniest oddball roles as a U.S. Marshall who can’t seem to hold onto his gun, he continues to drop it and misfire it time and again in the film and every time it is still funny. Bradley Cooper as the villain is less believable and more menacing than anything else, and his pairing with Joy Bryant seemed a bit off. Another funny role in the film was played by an eccentric gay State Trooper named Terry (Jess Rowland) who is connected to multiple other characters in the film. Besides all of them, there are many more actors who have smaller cameo roles in the film, like Kristin Chenoweth, Beau Bridges, Ryan Hansen and more, so look for those cameos throughout the movie.
While the car chases are great to watch and Dax Shepard’s appreciation for muscle cars is apparent by how they are filmed and showcased in the movie, the film fails to fully capture your attention for the duration of the movie as it seems to want to be seen as 10 different movies all at the same time. While I did enjoy most of the movie, the majority of the people I was with did not. So taking that all into consideration, this movie is probably best viewed as an at home video rental rather than paying full price at the theater, but that decision is up to you.
“Hit and Run” — rated R for pervasive language, nudity, some violence and drug content — revs its way into theaters today.
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