Oct 9, 2012

Movie Review: Hit And Run

Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) and Annie Bean (Kristen Bell) live a quiet suburban life under the watchful eye of Bronson's Witness Protection handler, Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold), whose gaffs in his US Marshall line of work saw him demoted to the position. Annie's an overqualified sociology teacher whose sympathetic boss fires her in exchange for finding her an amazing job in Los Angeles where she would be the head of her own department. Unfortunately, L.A. is the one place off-limits to Charlie due to his old life, but against his better judgment and with a spiteful ex of Annie's making things worse, the two venture into the danger zone that is Charlie's past.

It's said within the creative fields that there are no original stories anymore; just original twists on old stories. That's how I would describe the story to this film. There are chunks of the plot that can be found in dozens of other films, and on the whole, it feels like a tasteful homage to chase films of years past. Steve McQueen would have been proud of this film! Hit & Run doesn't feel redundant or recycled however, as many of the characters, backgrounds and motives feel so modern that some critics labeled the writing pretentious. The mainstream topics of homophobia, stereotyping, and animal abuse or used for light-hearted brevity to break up the action, but as Charlie Bronson explains in one scene, within all teasing there's a nugget of truth, but that truth is framed by playful teasing as a fallback in case the teasee gets mad.

While Hit & Run is an action-comedy, a lot of the humor is hit or miss. There are some LOL moments but the jokes are mostly broken up into three categories: very light grin-enducing sarcasm, gross-out shocks, and physical comedy. Everything Tom Arnold goes for in this film fits into the third category. On the flipside, while Hit & Run isn't frequently gut-busting, it is a crazy adrenaline rush. For the last decade, the Fast and Furious franchise has held a stranglehold on car-movies, but while visually appealing, I've never watched one of the F&F films with the same emotional investment or level of impressed as when watching Hit & Run. Maybe this is because Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell play such charming, fun characters, or maybe because Hit & Run was doing a whole lot on a very small budget. To demonstrate a comparison, the very first in the franchise - The Fast and the Furious came out in 2001 with a budget of $38 million, the lowest budget of any of the series, while Hit & Run produced an outstanding thrill ride for just $2 million. When I watch a F&F film, it's being spoonfed to me the entire time how much money went into it, so my expectations for visual stunts are very high. Hit & Run on the other hand felt very natural and down to earth, so my low expectations were far-far-far exceeded!

On top of the fantastic action scenes, the cast was brilliant from top-to-bottom. Some characters didn't get much of a chance to shine but still made the most of what they had. The film was carried on the acting chops of the lovable stars, Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, and Bradley Cooper. Tom Arnold was a dark horse who I didn't expect to enjoy, but was glad he has a buddy like Dax to write him into fitting roles that accentuate his talents and hide his weaknesses.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Hit & Run and hope Dax Shepard writes/directs/stars in more movies. With any luck, film companies will give him the ball and let him Kevin Smith it a while. I look forward to purchasing this film when it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray to show others, and until then I'll hold fond memories of such highlights as: the bowling ball, the ghost-driving, the old people, the drifting and the dog food. Overall rating...

4.25 / 5

images from Amazon and hitandrunmovie.com