Review: Hot Pursuit

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

PLOT: An uptight cop (Reese Witherspoon) is forced to protect the sexy widow (Sofia Vergara) of a drug lord after a double-cross leaves a federal agent dead and them in the cross-hairs of a pair of dirty cops.

REVIEW: One step forward, one step back. After a string of terrible comedies, Reese Witherspoon bounced back in a big way with her Oscar-nominated turn in WILD. HOT PURSUIT is a truly bizarre follow-up. Witherspoon may have taken this as a little box-office insurance, but the result is as bad as any of her worst comedies, putting her squarely back in LEGALLY BLONDE 2 territory – which anyone can see Witherspoon outgrew years ago.

Here, she plays a “zany” cop who's supposed to be so socially awkward (re: adorable) that the first scene has her date (a cameo by Mike Birbiglia) running for his life as he's so anxious to get away from this beautiful woman who's clearly interested in him. Yes folks, it's going to be that kind movie where I, as your humble critic, find myself in a dead zone of tragically unfunny hi-jinx.

I will give it this, HOT PURSUIT is better than PAUL BLART 2 – if marginally so. On the plus side, Anne Fletcher is a decent director slumming in a genre she's likely been pigeonholed in, so it's not an especially painful thing to look at. At least the whole movie isn't just a ninety minute casino commercial. Also – on their worst day Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara can never embarrass themselves too badly, but boy oh boy do they come close here.

Its amazing that this film ever got made as it's barely a movie – running a scant eighty-something minutes with credits drawn out by SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT-style outtakes that would pass muster as a DVD/Blu-ray extra at best. The film, which is yet another take on the MIDNIGHT RUN formula (cop and criminal reluctantly paired-up, become friends) that's about as inspired as the laughably generic title, which was actually used back in 1987 for a John Cusack/Robert Loggia joint.

Sofia Vergara was likely told throughout filming to “just do exactly what you do on Modern Family.” Thus, she plays a spicy-Latina with tons of jokes about her bodacious figure and age, with everyone assuming she's in her late forties/early fifties even though she looks about – I dunno – thirty five tops? For her part, Witherspoon's height is mocked, and for some reason a recurring joke is thrown in where people tell her she has a mustache even though she hasn't got the lightest bit of fuzz on her upper lip. It's just stupid.

The movie tries to eke laughs out of well-worn cliches involving a hick-farmer who loves guns (Jim Gaffigan – who I hope got paid well) and is easy to fool, and a tacked-on romantic subplot for Witherspoon where she falls in love with a gentlemanly parolee (Robert Kazinsky) with a six-pack and a bizarre propensity for violence, which is, of course, hi-la-ri-ous!. By far the worst bit is when Witherspoon and Vergara manage to outsmart the crooked cops by explaining to them the concept of menstruation, which apparently these bozos have never heard of. This is “How Did This Get Made” level material.

It all concludes with a sequence where Witherspoon dresses up as Justin Bieber (which of course fools everyone) to sneak into the bad guys party, yada yada yada. By this point you'll be beyond caring, although a last second joke which suggests a corrupt act by Witherspoon that could have been lifted out of THE SEVEN-FIVE is remarkably stupid – just like the rest of the movie.

In the end, Witherspoon and Vergara will probably emerge from this unscathed. It's bad, but it's more generic bad than “holy shit am I really watching this???” bad. I honestly can't imagine any audience really going for it as even the usual easy-to-please promo crowd at the free screening seemed relatively subdued. My groans whenever someone did or said something dumb was about as vocal as it got.

Hot Pursuit



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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.