Hit And Run Review By Adam

New action comedy Hit & Run is a charmingly strange piece of work. Actor Dax Shepard has created a passion project by wearing multiple hats —producer, writer, co-director and leading man— and employing his talented friends, including his fiancée Kristen Bell and best friend Bradley Cooper, to fill out the cast. Normally I would automatically rally against such an indulgent production. But Shepard is no silver-spooned Kardashian; except for a few comedic bit-parts in films like Idiocracy and Employee of the Month, he is positively low-profile. It also helps that Hit & Run cost a respectable $2 million to make. Shepard shows a scrappy, seriously DIY mentality with this film and, most importantly, it is actually quite good.

'There are two ways to drive: fast...and sideways!'

Hit & Run follows Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard), a man who is on the lam after entering the witness protection program. Charlie seems to have settled into his new life perfectly, especially in the romantic stakes, as he has managed to bag himself a sweet and beautiful girlfriend, Annie (Kristen Bell). But when Annie’s desperate ex, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), starts digging into Charlie’s past, he manages to tip off the gangsters that Charlie testified against. When Annie receives a life-changing job interview in Los Angeles, Charlie not only has to get her there on time, but also elude the gangsters, Gil and the bumbling U.S. Marshal (Tom Arnold) assigned to his case.

The vanity project 'The Hangover 4: International Cocktail' was a financial disaster

The biggest asset Hit & Run possesses is the chemistry between its leads, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell. These real-life love birds avoid the celluloid curse that normally accompanies real life Hollywood couples (Gigli, anyone?) and their affection for one another translates effortlessly onto the screen. Not only do they possess great chemistry, but Shepard also supplies some great characterisation for Charlie and Annie. The main theme of Hit & Run is reconciling one’s past and Shepard clears believes that you have to take a person on as you met them –their past is irrelevant. This is undoubtedly a personal inclusion as Shepard is a recovering addict who is 8 years sober (good on you, Dax),and this source of conjecture fuels many of the couple’s humorous exchanges.

After dating Billy Bob Thornton, Kristen had a thing for chipmunks

The rest of the characters in Hit & Run are almost unanimously oddballs. Bradley Cooper is borderline unrecognisable as the homeboy gangster Alex Dimitri (think: Jonathan Davis from Korn). Despite his ridiculous appearance, Cooper manages to generate some real menace. I’m normally not a big fan of Cooper –mainly because I don’t buy him being fast tracked to leading man status. Personally, I think his looks and talents make him far more suited to playing villains. His best work still remains Wedding Crashers, and it is good to see him play another slimy scumbag. Tom Arnold does the best with what he is given — basically a bumbling idiot for a character — but a recurring subplot involving his sexuality is one of the best (and sweetest) elements of this film. With a full head of hair and six pack abs,  Michael Rosenbaum looks wildly different to his daytime visage, Smallville’s Lex Luthor, but his character is neither good nor evil and as such he remains lukewarm. The rest of the cast — including David Koechner, Beau Bridges and Kristin Chenoweth — are regulated to little more than effectively wacky cameos.

Arnold gave the rampaging Roseanne a warning shot

I imagine (unless you are one of the world’s three diehard Dax Shepard fans) that Hit & Run’s biggest drawcard is the hotted-up cars on display. Shepard and co-director David Palmer fetishise muscle cars and are not afraid to put the pedal to the metal. Their low budget does not allow for the wanton destruction evident in car classics like the Blues Brothers or Smokey and the Bandit, but there are more than enough burnouts and close calls to make the average petrol-head grin like an idiot. Actually, the film’s low budget is probably a blessing in disguise, as it means we are spared the CGI car bullshit that creeps into franchises that should know better (hello, Fast & Furious).

There had to be an easier way to dry your hair

Hit & Run’s ramshackle script is both a blessing and a curse. The film takes some unusual and interesting detours — often in its choice of filthy dialogue — but it is seriously light on plot mechanics. The film never gets a sense of true purpose or momentum; just like the burnouts it showcases, it goes around and around without ever moving forward. If this film had a bit more of standard contrivance — one last bank job or a street race — to rationalise the burning rubber, it would be considerably better.

Cooper's off-set behaviour was a PR disaster

Hit & Run is perfect late-night TV fodder. It’s a film that you may have no intention of watching, but if you let if play through a few scenes you’ll find yourself strangely hooked up until the end. By no means is this earthshaking cinema, but it is a pleasant surprise all the same.

Three Stars   

Warning: this Redband trailer contains bad language and saggy boobs