Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey R.I.P. Mike Nichols (1931-2014) R.I.P. Mike Nichols (1931-2014) Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Watch: Al Pacino Plays An Aging Rocker Transformed By John Lennon In First Trailer For ‘Danny Collins’ Watch: Al Pacino Plays An Aging Rocker Transformed By John Lennon In First Trailer For ‘Danny Collins’ Review: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1' Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman, And More Review: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1' Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman, And More Chloe Moretz, Elle Fanning & Hailee Steinfeld Eyed To Play Jean Grey In 'X-Men: Apocalypse' And More Chloe Moretz, Elle Fanning & Hailee Steinfeld Eyed To Play Jean Grey In 'X-Men: Apocalypse' And More Steve McQueen's Next Film Will Be About Paul Robeson Steve McQueen's Next Film Will Be About Paul Robeson Watch: First Trailer For 'The Age Of Adaline' Starring Blake Lively, Ellen Burstyn And Harrison Ford Watch: First Trailer For 'The Age Of Adaline' Starring Blake Lively, Ellen Burstyn And Harrison Ford Listen Up, Christopher Nolan Defends Sound Mix On 'Interstellar' Listen Up, Christopher Nolan Defends Sound Mix On 'Interstellar' Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: 'Hit And Run' Would Be A Fun Action Comedy If It Weren't For All That Comedy

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist August 22, 2012 at 2:02PM

The fact that Charlie Bronson is the name of Dax Shepherd’s protagonist in the Shepherd-co-directed, Shepherd-written and Shepherd-starring “Hit and Run” tells you everything you need to know about the film. Particularly considering the film’s Bronson, a former getaway driver in deep trouble with a colorful gang of criminals, isn’t even using his real name. No, Bronson is the name he chose to gift himself upon entering witness protection, feeling his own name was unsatisfactorily macho. It’s also a reference upon a reference upon a reference -- he’s chosen to name himself after the British criminal who renamed himself Charles Bronson, whom we’ve already seen in the film “Bronson.”
3
Hit And Run

The fact that Charlie Bronson is the name of Dax Shepherd’s protagonist in the Shepherd-co-directed, Shepherd-written and Shepherd-starring “Hit and Run” tells you everything you need to know about the film. Particularly considering the film’s Bronson, a former getaway driver in deep trouble with a colorful gang of criminals, isn’t even using his real name. No, Bronson is the name he chose to gift himself upon entering witness protection, feeling his own name was unsatisfactorily macho. It’s also a reference upon a reference upon a reference -- he’s chosen to name himself after the British criminal who renamed himself Charles Bronson, whom we’ve already seen in the film “Bronson.”

It’s these layers of artifice that fueled Shepherd’s mock-doc from years ago, “Brother’s Justice.” In that forgotten piece of fluff, Shepherd played himself as an egotistical minor celebrity who sought to begin an action career based upon one flimsy premise of a film. Shepherd wants to sing the song, but he doesn’t know the words, having no self-defense training at any level, rendering “Brother’s Justice” a minor curio of an inside joke, the sort of thing that will be incomprehensible in thirty years when Shepherd is long gone.

Hit And Run

Few predicted that film was actually foreshadowing the lanky journeyman’s genuine attempt at action heroism. What dooms “Hit and Run,” which, charitably, is not as generic as it’s name implies, is that the film itself comments on its own sincerity. When it’s not concerned with the husky, cinematic drone of a muscle car peeling out of a parking lot, it peppers the film with inane comedy bits, giving the film’s many bit players a chance to fumble around, turning Shepherd’s third generation “Vanishing Point” knockoff into a fourth-rate “Smokey and the Bandit.”

Onscreen, Shepherd appears tall enough to block out the sun, skinny and lithe in a way that benefits a chase film. Unfortunately, his monotone delivery, punctuated by bellowing outbursts, reminds one of Adam Sandler’s earlier days. While Sandler spoke in a sing-song boyish tone that seemed once charming, Shepherd’s intonation is that of a man who is almost always being sarcastic, and it’s impossible to tell when he’s mocking other characters or expressing his true feelings, particularly to his onscreen paramour and real-life partner Kristen Bell.

Hit And Run

Bell’s Annie has an exciting new job and has to leave the small town in which they’ve settled, but Shepherd’s Bronson hasn’t revealed to her that he’s purposely laying low with a fake identity and existence. He opts to keep it that way, getting into his old getaway car and speeding her to the job interview despite violating his parole and incurring the exasperated scolding of his bumbling parole officer (Tom Arnold). He, in turn, earns the attention of two local cops, one of whom pursues him after he learns he is also homosexual through an Internet gay search engine for same sex couples to track each other. What was once an Orwellian nightmare is now a joke about coupling in a high speed car chase movie.

Annie’s brother (Michael Rosenbaum) also selects this opportunity to delve into his sister’s questionable partner and discovers Bronson’s past exploits. Through the wonders of the Internet ("Hit and Run" plays like a '90s film, with an attitude that Computers Can Do Anything!), he contacts the criminal in search of the wayward deserter. Enter a dreadlocked, sweatpants-wearing Bradley Cooper, who like most of this cast is ported over from “Brother’s Justice” despite theoretically having something of an A-List career. Cooper, a funny actor, is not a particularly complex one, and he takes a shot at being the film’s eccentric-but-dangerous baddie with a host of unconventional insecurities. Attempting to overplay by underplaying, Cooper ends up allowing his dubious yellow eyewear to do most of the heavy lifting.

Hit And Run

When Shepherd gets behind the wheel, the film works as a straight-faced genre exercise, with the chemistry between Shepherd and Bell fueling concisely edited chase sequences. Shepherd’s unconventional looks and bizarre delivery help him in these scenarios -- he’s a lot like Barry Newman of “Vanishing Point” and “Fear is the Key,” his confidence behind the wheel painting him as a hero even if his countenance, and the lies that necessitate the multi-state chase, suggest otherwise. There’s a genuine unease to the idea that he and Annie may live happily ever after -- a scene where they debate Bronson’s supposedly surprising use of the word “faggot” goes nowhere and seems like an awkward contemporary revision to a film that consciously feels like a throwback, though it’s a workable way to illustrate that there may be a lack of compatibility with the Bronson who wants to marry the love of his life, and the real Bronson.

Unfortunately, Shepherd can’t resist a good (bad/very bad) joke once in awhile, so the dramatic tension of this set-up is constantly deflated. None of the peripheral characters serve the story in any way, though most have their own comedic bit they’re dying to enforce on our lead characters. Kristen Chenowith chimes in repeatedly as a motormouth associate of Annie’s who consistently advises her to take the job, but the film also sidelines itself so she can deliver monologues about sex and drugs that drags the film’s momentum to a halt. Literally every side player has a similar digression, none moreso than the two ugly incidents that color Cooper’s pachouli-stink baddie.

In our first scene with him, he encounters a large black man buying what he views is substandard dog food. After giving this man a lecture (the man appears to be both dim and belligerent), Cooper takes him behind the market, ties his neck around a leash, and forces him to choke on the very same dog food while on his hands and knees. Later, Cooper admits to being raped in prison, leading to Bronson running down a list of minorities that might be responsible. It’s a riff that goes on forever -- at the very most, these tangents are insensitive and disgusting. At the least, they’re depriving us of a few gnarly car chase sequences so one of the stars of “Punk’d” can mock the supposed femininity of Asian men. Like most of “Hit and Run,” it’s not a great use of your time. [C]
 

This article is related to: Review, Hit And Run, Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates