August 26, 2012

Movie Review: Hit and Run

There are some movies that I go see for irrational reasons. Sometimes it is out of a need for something to do and sometimes it is for someone in the movie (why else would I have gone to Honey in a theater?). Fortunately some of those times result on a surprising experience in the movies. This is not to say I have stumbled across masterpieces in this fashion, but I have been pleasantly surprised on occasion. Hit and Run has proven to be one of those surprises. The reason I went? Some cool cars and Kristen Bell.

Hit and Run is a movie that is not terribly deep and not exactly insightful. It is a movie that arrives with low expectations and does not look to light up the box office charts. I suspect it will die a quick death and be forgotten in relatively short order. While this seems likely, I believe it deserves a better fate than that. This movie is actually a lot of fun and while it may not have much to say, it is a fun, in the moment kind of feature.

The center of the story is Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard). He is living in a sleepy northern California town, safely in the witness protection program. Some four years earlier, he testified in a trial about a string of bank robberies of which he was the getaway driver. He is attempting to put that part of his life behind him and is living a quiet, laid back life with his girlfriend, Annie (real life girlfriend Kristen Bell). She is a teacher at a small college.

Trouble stirs up with Annie's boss (Kristen Chenoweth) forces her to accept an interview in LA for a position in her unique specialty, non-violent conflict resolution (an interesting element not used to its fullest potential). That in and of itself is not so bad, but LA happens to be where Charlie's old buddies hang and Annie does not know anything about his sordid past. Past and present collide when he decides to drive her to the interview.

Their first problem is to take off without telling the agent in change of Charlie's protection, Randy (Tom Arnold). Their second problem is Annie's ex-boyfriend, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum). He still carries a torch for Annie and doesn't like her taking off with Charlie, so he discovers Charlie's real name and inadvertently alerts the bank robbing pals, led by Alexi (Bradley Cooper). This puts everybody on the trail of our happy couple as they desperately try to get to LA.

That is pretty much the story. There is not a lot to it, it comes down to chemistry and execution. This is a case where it looks like everyone involved was just having a blast. Shepard and Bell have good chemistry on the screen, and even though the characters are on the shallow side, they are still entertaining to watch. Tom Arnold also looks like he is having fun as a hapless agent with issues with his gun. Bradley Cooper, bad hair and all, seems to be having some fun as the head bank robber.

Hit and Run is a movie best enjoyed in the moment. It is a movie made to have fun with. There are some laughs to be had and the action is pretty good as well. The car chases are nicely crafted and done without an abundance of CG. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

The movie is something of a vanity project for Shepard. He wrote the screenplay, co-directed it with David Palmer, co-edited it, produced it, did some of the stunt driving, and even used a number of his own cars. This doesn't necessarily make this a good movie, but it does show some dedication to the project. The fact that it is a fun movie is just plain luck.

If you are looking for some solid car chase action, some laughs, some fun sketches of characters, this may be for you. It is better than expected and provides some fun for a late summer movie with no expectations.


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