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Wednesday
Aug222012

Hit & Run

Dax Shepard has never been the most appealing actor in the world. He’s supposed to be a funnyman, but his antics never amount to more than the occasional chuckle—his most popular performances coming from Ashton Kutcher’s MTV show “Punk’d”—but he’s never quite unlikable either. He exists within that middle ground where he doesn’t do much to impress, but there’s something about him you enjoy anyway. The same can essentially be said for his fiancé Kristen Bell. Despite love from many adoring fans, she rarely stars in something worth watching. Combine the two in one movie and you have, predictably, something that is neither horrible nor very good. Similar to the stars themselves, Hit & Run fails in many regards, but somehow still retains a decent amount of charm, despite a weak script and amateurish direction from Shepard that falls into redundancy quickly.

The film stars Shepard and Bell as Charlie and Annie, a couple living somewhere in the Midwest United States who are happy with their own little existence. They love each other dearly and treat each other with respect, but one day, Annie is offered a job at a prestigious college in Los Angeles as the head of a new department, Non-violent Conflict Resolution. Unfortunately, heading to LA means putting Charlie’s life on the line—Charlie is in the Witness Protection Program and has been ever since he testified in court to put away Alex Dimitri (Bradley Cooper)—but this job is Annie’s dream job and Charlie loves her too much to keep her from achieving it. Reluctantly, he sets off to LA with her, but Alex is quickly alerted to their presence thanks to Annie’s jealous ex-lover Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), who for some reason thinks he’ll keep Annie safe by allowing the psychotic Alex to track down Charlie (besides, Charlie could be in the Witness Protection Program because he was an accomplice to any manner of evil deed).

The set-up to Hit & Run is as contrived as one could possibly get. Before they head out to LA, Annie needs her teaching license for the interview, which just so happens to be at Gil’s house and has been for the past year. This sparks Gil to contact Alex (through Facebook of all places) and tail Charlie as he innocently accompanies her to LA. If Annie simply had grabbed that teaching license when she moved out of Gil’s place, which any hopeful professor would do, this whole situation could have been avoided. But it’s not just the set-up that falls too comfortably into place. The numerous amount of coincidences in this cat and mouse tale become too much to handle. Somehow, Gil and/or Alex knows precisely where to find Charlie and Annie at seemingly all times. Even when Charlie manages to outmaneuver them, it’s only a matter of time before they stumble upon each other again. Constantly, the film asks you to go with moments like this, but it’s nigh impossible to do so.

When the characters do come into contact with each other, it inevitably leads to a car chase. Because of this, Hit & Run too often feels like a showcase for stunt driving rather than a movie with a story to tell, but none of these scenes offer up too much excitement. While it may be needless to say, this is not a Fast and the Furious movie. Those films may be light on story, but they inarguably had some incredible high velocity car chases. This movie has neither an interesting story nor fun chases. The little bit of excitement it does manage to gather dissipates with repetition. Car chase after car chase ensues in Hit & Run (to the point where I’m pretty sure if I looked at the script, whole pages would simply read in big bold font “CAR CHASE”) and it gets stale quickly.

Hit & Run has jokes that go nowhere, action scenes lacking in thrills, multiple stereotypes and characters whose actions and motivations are clumsy at best, including Randy (Tom Arnold in a horribly overacted performance), a United States Marshal who insists on protecting Charlie against his will and who only serves to complicate the situation, but the film never reaches flat out awfulness. There is a hint of sweetness to it, including the opening and closing lines of dialogue, the latter recalling the former, but the problem is that not enough time is spent building these characters and their relationship with one another for us to care. Instead, the film relies far too heavily on uninspired and overdone chase sequences and it just doesn’t work. Hit & Run isn’t the worst movie you’ll see this year, but it’s certainly one of the blandest.

Hit & Run receives 1.5/5

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