Hit and Run

A little like the souped-up Lincoln that Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) spends the majority of the movie driving, Hit and Run is a crazy concoction of parts, thrown together with the hope that it’ll move like a well-oiled machine. Unlike the Lincoln, though, the movie takes about an hour to go from 0 to 60.

A labor of love from Shepard (who wrote, co-directed, and stars), Hit and Run occasionally fires on all cylinders, and eventually it crosses the finish line… but only barely.

Charlie has spent the past four years in witness protection, and he’s enjoyed the last year with girlfriend Annie (Shepard’s real-life fiancée Kristen Bell). When Annie gets a once-in-a-lifetime job offer in Los Angeles, though, Charlie decides to drive her there, at the same time returning to the scene of the crime (and the baddies he’s being protected from).

Hot on their tail are Charlie’s bumbling U.S. Marshall Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold), Annie’s hyper-possessive ex-boyfriend Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), a couple of small-town sheriffs, and, yes, the bad guys– led by Alex Dmitri (Bradley Cooper).

The biggest problem is that it takes well more than half of the movie for everyone to finally come together. By that point you may just find yourself realizing how much time was wasted getting to the meat.

Shepard’s screenplay has some truly funny moments (mostly when Arnold’s around), and there’s a healthy smattering of fun cameos (capped with two top-shelf ones in the last 15 minutes). But there are also lectures about using a certain derogatory word for homosexuals, a sermon from Alex about the importance of dog food (in a bizarre, incongruous scene), and silly bits from the sheriffs about a certain fictional smartphone app.

Bell and Shepard are certainly adorable together, and their chemistry helps save Hit and Run from being totaled, but do we really need moments of canoodling and pillow talk? This isn’t the kind of movie we signed on for.

Yes, Shepard (and co-director David Palmer) obviously had a ball putting the movie together. Not only was his gal by his side, he also did most of the driving stunts (a fact which does help the believability of the chase scenes). If only he’d had a better (or any) script editor.

Despite the inherent situation, there’s not much of a sense of danger, and the adrenaline rarely gets flowing as fast as it should. Most everything seems like a lite version of what could (and should) have been– except for when an old-folks nudist party is crashed. Twice. Nothing ‘lite’ about that. You’ve been warned.

3/5 stars