Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Some films just exude exuberance and you get a sense that everyone on the set was having a good time. This film, directed by 'Parenthood' star Dax Shepard and David Palmer, is a collaboration between Shepard and his girlfriend Kristin Bell, with a bunch of actors working for cheap. The film is fun, if a little light, but you could certainly do worse than this off-kilter comedy.
Charlie Bronson (Shepard), a pseudonym if there ever was one, busts out of the Witness Protection Program and runs off with Annie (Bell) for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He is pursued by a U.S. Marshal (Tom Arnold) as well as members of his former gang, led by Alex (Bradley Cooper).
Charlie and Annie have a sweet relationship, but Annie has no idea that her boyfriend is in the witness protection program. As they make their way down to LA, Charlie gradually reveals his troubled past. Complications arise when Annie's ex-boyfriend tips off Alex (Cooper) about Charlie's real identity, and the multi-pronged chase begins.
Bradley Cooper, voted People's magazine sexiest man, puts on dreadlocks and hams it up as Alex, the not-very-competent villain of the piece who wants to take down Charlie.
Unfortunately, with that hairstyle, he fails to come across as a convincing bad guy. Real life couple Shepard and Bell are sweet together and have a comfortable chemistry. It's Tom Arnold's performance as a bumbling Marshall that keeps getting the laughs.
There are some crazy car stunt work, and Shepard's love of classic cars, with their distinctive lines and engineering, clearly shows. You just hope that the vehicles weren't actually damaged during the making of the film.
The plot, after a strong start, flits to third gear, and more characters are thrown in for very little impact. The main characters are also hard to sympathise with. Charlie/Yul is a liar, while Annie comes across as sort of whiny. Shepard tries to insert Tarantino-esque dialogue to give the film a little more cred, but much of it is cringe-worthy. It just feels like you're getting a cheap copy of the original.
It's best to ignore these distractions and just enjoy the chases and the comedy. Some of the laughs are desperate, such as a scene where Alex storms into a room of elderly swingers, while some is just tasteless, particularly one involving dog food.
Shepard has remarked that 'Smokey and the Bandit' was a big influence on the film, and Shepard does not quite have the confidence or persuasiveness to make the film really stand out.
Nonetheless, 'Hit and Run' is a chase comedy goes down the usual route, but does throw in the odd idea and a talented cast make this road trip a mostly fun ride, and, like all road trips, with long segments of nothing much happening.