Review: Hit and Run
PLOT: When his girlfriend gets the job interview of a lifetime in Los Angeles, a former criminal under witness protection decides to brave it all and drive her to the city where his dangerous past still haunts him. Along the way they get involved with jealous ex-boyfriends, federal marshals and Bradley Cooper with dreadlocks.
REVIEW: Appropriately, given its title, HIT AND RUN came out of nowhere and was one of the nice little surprises of Comic Con. I knew very little about the movie or what to expect, which is probably the best way to enjoy this old-school action-comedy.
The man that gets literally all the credit is actor and co-writer-director-editor-stunt driver Dax Shepard. (Yes, that Dax Shepard.) It’s obvious Shepard loves SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, so if you’re a fan of the Burt Reynolds classic, I’m confident you’ll have a blast with HIT AND RUN. From conception to a completion, the flick was made in only 10 weeks, which is pretty impressive considering how polished the script and action elements are. Yes, it’s low budget, but there’s an energy to it and even some of the car chases are more exciting your average studio fare.
Shepard clearly called in a lot of favors/friends and the result is a well-rounded comedy cast. All the supporting characters are memorable, even if their roles are brief, and everyone’s familiarity shows on screen. There’s Tom Arnold (legitimately hilarious as Shepard’s inept Witness Protection officer), Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum, Kristin Chenowith, David Koechner, and a cameo or two I don’t want to spoil. Best by far, however, is Bradley Cooper, playing as against-type as humanly possible as a murderous thug with a Rastafarian haircut. Cooper gets to let loose as a unique villain, whose reasoning for holding a grudge against Shepard left me in stitches.
Of course the easiest favor was getting Shepard’s real-life fiancée Kristen Bell to play his lovable girlfriend in the film. Your initial reaction may have been like mine—“She’s dating that guy?” (No offense, Dax!)—but after watching HIT AND RUN, I can see why. The two have a fantastic, authentic chemistry that is smartly built as the emotional backbone of the film. There’s a lot of real relationship moments, discussions and even arguments that are clearly pulled from their actual partnership, all of which helps you root for them until the end. And like Cooper, you can tell Bell’s having ablast acting alongside her boyfriend and getting to do all the action stuff as well. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s endlessly adorable.
More importantly, HIT AND RUN is funny. The humor ranges from romantic comedy to gross out gags to some edgier fare (including the worst nudity since ABOUT SCHMIDT). Some jokes work better than others, but there are genuine laugh out loud moments sprinkled throughout, including one at the beginning involving Tom Arnold, a minivan and a firearm. I also dug some of the recurring gags, like the main character’s increasingly funny names, Arnold’s vehicular luck and the Pouncer app (which is apparently a real thing).
HIT AND RUN works fun and light, without much in the way of a plot or story arc besides the basic set-up. But it was an entertaining two hours and gave me a bit more respect for Dax Shepard.
After the screening Shepard, Tom Arnold and producer Andrew Panay came out for a very funny Q&A. Below are some highlights:
- Shepard confirmed his favorite movie is SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and that one of the producers knew he wanted to make a car chase movie. So when the money became available for a brief window of time he acted quickly—literally 10 weeks to finish it. “That’s faster than a Tyler Perry movie.”
- To save as much money as possible, all the actors worked for free as a favor to Dax and he wrote all the roles specifically for them.
- Almost all the cars used in the movie actually belong to Shepard. He also did all his own driving, much to the producer’s chagrin.
- To find the naked older people for the hotel scene, the production put an ad on Craigslist and they actually used the six adventurous souls that showed up.
- Tom Arnold warned Shepard about working with his wife on-camera and made some not-so-subtle jabs at Roseanne and the infamous stabbing incident. Also, “Did you see GIGLI?”
- All of Bradley Cooper’s dogs in the movie are Kristen Bell’s actual dogs.
- The minivan that was used in the crash sequence was the same one that was shot up in Ben Affleck’s THE TOWN. The van jumped 80 feet in the air and still ran perfectly. Shepard said you’ll be seeing that vehicle in other movies because it’s clearly indestructible.
- Both the story about anal rape and the Pouncer app have some basis in reality
- Nobody asked Tom Arnold about TRUE LIES 2, thank God.
|Extra Tidbit:||HIT AND RUN opens August 24, 2012.|