I didn’t have very high expectations for the new car chase comedy, Hit and Run, but I was pleasantly surprised to find this film smart (well, most of the time), charming and a lot of fun. It’s a welcome 21st century addition to the genre that was formed by ’70s classics like Grand Theft Auto and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.
Now, I don’t know a lot about cars and I could tell you more about ‘Machine Man’ than machines made by man, but like any red-blooded American, I do love a cool fast car and an exciting car chase, especially one that involves a cute and intelligent blonde like Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) in this film.
Annie (Bell) has a rare psychology degree that she has been unable to use professionally; and when she gets a once-in-a-life-time job opportunity that requires a move to Los Angeles, she and her boyfriend must make a quick road-trip to get her to an interview appointment in time. The problem is that her boyfriend, Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard), is in the witness-protection program and he risks being killed by venturing back into Los Angeles.
It turns out that Bronson was a getaway driver for a series of bank robberies, but when his partners killed someone during one of the heists, he turned them in. The charges didn’t stick and his former friends are free and out to kill him – with the assistance of Annie’s former boyfriend, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), who is helping the bad guys locate Charlie, in hopes of winning his former girlfriend back.
Charlie & Annie end up with the bad guys, led by Alex Dimitri (Bradley Cooper), Charlie’s witness protection liaison (Tom Arnold), Annie’s old boyfriend and the cops all on their tail. Throw in some romance and sprinkle with some testosterone laced tension, snappy dialogue and comedic action and this is a great running summer vehicle.
Written, co-directed and produced by its star, Dax Shepard, Hit and Run is a mix between Tarantino’s True Romance and Grand Theft Auto – but with smarter characters. Shepard’s dialogue is witty, thoughtful and funny and doesn’t shy away from topics like homosexuality or racial discrimination and stereotypes. If you’ve seen the trailer for this film, then you already know some of the ground that is going to be covered and this movie is certainly not for kids or the easily offended.
Real-life couple Shepard & Bell have great on-screen chemistry together and the acting across the board is well done. Even Tom Arnold provides a great performance as the bumbling U.S. Marshall whose job it is to protect Charlie Bronson. And the way that Shepard’s character got the name based on the 70s & 80s iconic action-star is just one of the interesting anecdotes in this film.
I normally don’t take kindly to in-your-face soundtracks that are meant more to sell CDs than to enhance a film, but Hit and Run does have a lot of really good music, including classic tracks by Lou Rawls and Kool and the Gang, that fit very well with the film AND has me considering a soundtrack purchase [with fists-shaking angrily towards Hollywood].
Not every gag hits a run in this very entertaining movie and there is a post-ending epilogue that felt completely out of place and unnecessary, but overall Hit and Run was worth the road-trip an unexpected surprise to help round out the summer movie season.