Review: Hit & Run
PLOT: A former getaway driver (Dax Shepard) now living in Witness Protection finds himself chased by his old associates when he ditches the program to drive his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) to an important job interview in LA.
REVIEW: HIT AND RUN is a movie that works a whole lot better that I thought it would. A labor of love for stars Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell- who are a couple both on and off-screen, this is Shepard’s (who also co-directed and wrote the screenplay) love letter to both his girlfriend, and hardcore vehicular badassery.
Done up in the style of a seventies Burt Reynolds flick (picture GATOR crossed with SMOKEY & THE BANDIT)- opting for a healthy dose of good ol’boy style comedy, criss-crossed with hardcore auto action, HIT AND RUN seemingly aspires to be nothing other than 100 minutes of fun, and on that score it more than delivers.
Dax Shepard, who’s been coming into his own lately on NBC’s PARENTHOOD, takes it up a notch as the Muscle-car crazy Yul (lol) Perkins, who once he enters Witness Protection- redubs himself Charles Bronson (sweet!). This is probably Shepard’s first movie where I really dug what he was doing, dialing back the mugging and opting for more of a cool, easygoing vibe (again- a la Reynolds) that suits him well. Impressively, Shepard seems to have done most of his own driving here, and it’s hard not to be impressed when peels out in a ’67 Lincoln Continental that’s bound to give anyone out there that digs cars some serious wood.
But- the real key to the movie is his chemistry with Bell. Many off-screen couples can’t really translate their chemistry to the big screen, but Shepard and Bell- who seem to be playing characters not unlike themselves, definitely have good chemistry. They seem like the kind of cool couple you’d want to hang out with, and their give and take, and teasing feels authentic and is endearing. Bell’s a really talented comedienne who hasn’t been that well served by movies lately (not since FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL) - but this plays to her strengths, and she’s terrific.
Many of the couple’s Hollywood buddies show up here. Bradley Cooper is particularly funny as Shepard’s dreadlocked former partner-in-crime- who’s after some payback. Of course, being a comedy, the “threat” from Cooper is never that great- but it doesn’t make any difference. Shepard’s PARENTHOOD love interest, Joy Bryant, and Bell’s former VERONICA MARS co-star Ryan Hansen round out Cooper’s crew. Tom Arnold plays the U.S Marshal who ineptly chases the duo in order to “protect” them, while Michael Rosenbaum (from SMALLVILLE- and with hair) is Bell’s ex-boyfriend, who’s also after them in his BMW (naturally no match for the Lincoln).
As for the action scenes, the car chases, while done on a tight budget, are pretty solid. They’re shot and cut well- and while they’re mostly constrained to empty back roads, parking lots, and most memorably in a warehouse, they have that cool seventies style to them that I actually prefer to the apocalyptic Hollywood style on display in movies like FAST FIVE. The car stunts are real, and the driving is authentically badass (Shepard joins Steve McQueen, James Garner and Paul Newman as actors that can seemingly handle the stunt driving as well as any professional driver).
While HIT AND RUN does get a bit bogged down in some of the goofy jokes that go on too long (including some freaky octogenarian nudity), and there’s a bizarre scene where Cooper puts a guy on a leash that should have maybe been cut, overall I had a damn good time with HIT AND RUN. It’s a solid way to end the summer, and way better than what we’d usually get in the dog days of August.
|Extra Tidbit:||My Witness Protection Program name: Warren Oates.|