January 11, 2013

Blu-ray Review: Hit and Run

Hit and Run is a movie that is not terribly deep and not exactly insightful. It is the kind of movie that arrives with low expectations, does not exactly light up the box office, and disappears from the public eye, destined to be little more than a footnote for all involved. That probably sounds harsh but I believe it deserves a better fate than that. This movie is actually pretty good and while it may not have much to say, it is a fun, in the moment kind of flick. I could think of worse ways to spend an evening.

This is the story of Charles Bronson, no, not that Charles Bronson, although that probably would have been fun. This is about Charlie (Dax Shepard), a nice guy living in a sleepy northern California town, safely in the witness protection program. Four years before we start the movie, he testified in a trial about a string of bank robberies for which he was the getaway driver. Now, in the present, he is attempting to put that part of his life behind him start new. In his attempt to bury the past, he moved to this small town and is living a quiet, laid back life with his girlfriend, Annie (real life girlfriend Kristen Bell), a small college teacher.

The plot gets kick started when Annie's boss (Kristen Chenoweth) forces her to accept an interview in LA for a teaching position in her unique specialty of non-violent conflict resolution, which Charlie offers to drive her to. Now that doesn't sound so bad, taken by itself. The problem is that LA happens to be where Charlie's old bank robbing buddies are and Annie knows nothing about his criminal past. Past and present collide when he decides to drive her to the interview.

Their first problem is they take off without telling Charlie's Witness Protection agent, Randy (Tom Arnold). Their second problem is Annie's ex-boyfriend, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), who still carries a torch for Annie and is mot appreciative of her taking off with a criminal. He sets things in fast forward when he uncovers 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 just about it. The thin plot is not exactly original, so a lot of the movie's success comes down to chemistry and execution. It also helps that it looks like everyone involved is 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 fun to watch. Tom Arnold also looks like he is having fun as a hapless agent with issues with his gun, not to mention being perpetually two steps behind. Bradley Cooper, bad hair and all, seems to be having some fun as the head bank robber.

The movie is 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 not a movie to learn about the human condition or see the next evolution of filmmaking. This is a movie to just enjoy and remember that it is all right to just be entertained and have a little fun.

Audio/Video. The film is presented in a ratio of 2.35:1. The film looks pretty good. I do not suspect that this was a very highly budgeted film and the resulting look has a bit of that low budget quality to it. Detail is solid throughout and everything brightly lit. The movie has a bit of sun burnt look with everything seeming a bit heightened under the California sun. It is a look that works well during the car chases, filled with great detail of the cars.

Sound is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 variety and does the film justice. It is a crisp and nicely balanced track. Dialogue is always clear and audible and the surrounds kick in nicely when the cars turn it up and roar through the streets with rock music accompaniment.

Extras. The bonus material leaves a little to be desired.

  • Deleted Scenes. A series of bits cut from the finished film. It is probably for the best these were left out.
  • Street Legal. A brief look at the films cars and Shepard's professed love for chase movies.
  • Run and Gun. Essentially a continuation of the first featurette as they discuss the plot and the fun they had making it.
  • Love in the Run. More of the same. Interviews about the genesis of the story and the love story element.

Bottomline. 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.


Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Hit and Run on Blogcritics.

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