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HIT AND RUN - Movie Review
HIT AND RUN
Release Date: Friday 12 October
Director: Dax Shepard, David Palmer
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Starring: Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Kristen Chenoweth, Tom Arnold, Bradley Cooper
Screening Reviewed: London Press Screening
There’s a running gag throughout Hit and Run that is in many ways a fitting metaphor for the experience you’ll likely have with the film. Tom Arnold’s character Randy repeatedly finds himself and his car flung into a series of mishaps and misfortunes - rear-ending a police truck, almost mowing down two children as they play on their lawn, and generally suffering the kind of vehicular damage reserved for the denizens of over-zealous Vin Diesel flicks. As an audience we too are repeatedly flung into these highly unlikely and generally unmotivated set pieces and sequences of events with such randomness and convenience that suspension of disbelief becomes a thing of vague memory and any genuine investment in plot, character or humour is replaced with something more akin to Stockholm syndrome.
It’s a lofty and perhaps overly extreme critique of the film to be sure, but everything in Hit and Run is so haphazard and sloppily implemented that eventually you have to sit back and just hope the next complete random and illogical moment of madness or bizarre character exchange will strike a chord (and fortunately there are just about enough such moments that do). Comedy of this ilk has never felt the need to adhere itself too strictly to strict narrative convention or logic, but in Hit and Run this is taken to an extreme - an over-abundance of supporting characters who are introduced and ultimately contribute little to the film, in particular the likes of Michael Rosenbaum’s Gil, who shows some early promise but ultimately fizzles out of the story with no real impact or resolution, coupled with a handful of over-indulgent and ultimately meaningless cameos, merely over-crowd the film and give the generally winning performances and stronger characters less screen-time and purpose than they deserve.
Dax Shepard and Kirsten Bell do a solid job as Charles (Bronson, no less) and Annie, the young couple who are forced to endure the dangerous and ridiculous as a young couple desperately trying to get to LA for a crucial job interview whilst attempting to outrun his witness-protection past that begins to catch up with the pair. There are a handful of effective moments between the pair, given extra poignance in the knowledge they are a couple in real life, but too often the tone falters with both characters and heads off in distracting directions - she fiercely left-wing and almost inexplicably defensive, and he very occasionally almost unsettling dubious and suspect.
As mentioned, the supporting cast is unnecessarily busy, though credit must be given to Kristen Chenoweth and Jess Rowland in particular who make the most of what limited screen-time they are given. Tom Arnold threatens to almost over-act his way into the auditorium to a point that the laughs for his character become almost overwrought and desperate, and it’s unfortunate they did not give the role to someone more accustomed to handling the atypical ‘comedy fall guy’ role (Thomas Lennon springs to mind). The same is true of much of the character and dialogue on display - noticeably derivative of what has come before and the Apatow-esque archetypes are flung in your face repeatedly throughout without any real reasoning, subtlety or satisfying resolution. By the time Beau Bridges turns up in the final act and is given a mere handful of lines despite the importance of his character it becomes almost painfully clear that this is a film which needed a less indulgent screenwriter to come along and trim some of the excess whilst toning down the mimicry.
Despite this hefty surge of criticism, Hit and Run is something of a difficult film to dislike with any real venom or vitriol - it’s a generally likable and enjoyable comedy outing with the occasional laugh-out-loud set piece or zing of dialogue. It lacks any ambition or intention to be remotely original, and every time it seems to have founds its heart and settled on a genre it throws in a sharp U-turn. Providing you go in with your expectations lodged firmly in second gear (or preferably, reverse) and don’t attempt to think of it as anything more than and hit-and-run cinema outing yourself, chances are you’ll not come away wanting to press charges.
Except maybe against those puns.
RATING - * * (2 out of 5 Stars)
Access to the press screening for 'Hit and Run' was provided by Substance001 PR, London. The author gratefully acknowledges their assistance and invitation.
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