I follow Dax Shepard on Twitter, so I knew about this movie when it came out, but I never got around to seeing it. I just found it on Netflix recently, and I was in a binging mood so I watched it. I’d heard it was good, and now I get why!
First of all, Bradley Cooper in dreadlocks is reason enough. He pulls off that almost socially adjusted psychopath brilliantly, and the fact that he does it in Adidas running pants and dreads makes it all the more fun to watch!
Shepard both wrote and co-directed this film, which explains why he has his wife (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars) and his TV wife (Joy Bryant, Parenthood) in main roles, and also Bell’s costar from Veronica Mars, Ryan Hansen (Allen here, Dick in VM, Andy in 2 Broke Girls).
But there are plenty of familiar faces aside from those closely tied to the two leads: Tom Arnold appears as a clumsy (that’s putting it mildly) US Marshal on Charlie’s (Shepard) witness protection detail, and while I’ve never particularly disliked Arnold, he’s never been THAT funny to me, but here, he is possibly the funniest I’ve ever seen him. Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville‘s Lex Luthor, but I knew him best from Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane, a short-lived sitcom that was totally hilarious) plays Annie’s (Bell) obsessed ex Gil, Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies, GCB, The West Wing–yes, that is the order of which I liked her roles, not the order she appeared in them) also has a supporting role, as well as Sean Hayes (Sean Saves the World, Will & Grace), Beau Bridges (The Millers) plays Charlie’s (Shepard) father, and our good friend Jason Bateman even pops his head in for a scene!
Plot-wise, it’s sort of a road trip film, the main purpose being that Annie has a job interview for a dream job in LA and, though Charlie is in witness protection, he couldn’t forgive himself if he let her give up a job like this on his account, just because he can’t leave town, so he decides to drive her down himself. However, Gil is the one who turns everything on its head when he finds out Annie and Charlie are leaving. Believing Charlie to be a murderer and Annie to thereby be in danger, he has his brother, a state trooper, look up the license plate on the car Charlie is driving and finds out his real identity. He then sets Charlie’s old contacts -aka the people who are trying to kill him, after them – thinking he’s going to save Annie. On top of that, when Charlie takes off without telling Randy (Arnold), Randy tries to do his job and catch up to Charlie to protect him, but his clumsiness and poor judgment do more harm than good.
When they start out, Annie still doesn’t know about Charlie’s past–he used to be a wheelman in bank jobs and ratted out his pals Alex and Allen (Cooper and Hansen) to get off the hook, which is why he’s in witness protection now–but as Gil starts to put two and two together after getting the license plates on Charlie’s car, Annie starts asking questions and isn’t completely sure she can be with someone who would lie about their past like that.
While it has some crime drama/action movie aspects – bank robbers, guns, and car chases – this is most definitely a comedy. Sort of like Get Shorty, actually, in terms of character development and themes.
For being his first mainstream project that Shepard wrote and directed, Hit and Run is a pretty great film. It doesn’t rely on any one form of humor, though physical comedy is a big one for Tom Arnold’s scenes, it has a decent story, and it has some funny, badass characters. It’s not an art film, by any means, but it’s a fun way to spend a couple hours if you like action movies or an Elmore Leonard style of criminal (see: Get Shorty again, Bandits, Out of Sight, and maybe The Big Bounce for an idea of what that means, though don’t really watch The Big Bounce–it really was not a very good adaptation). I hope Shepard decides to write another screenplay. If it’s anywhere near as funny as this one, he’ll have a job waiting for him after Parenthood runs its course!
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