By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 8, 2012 at 2:17PM
Actor-writer-director Dax Shepard ("Parenthood") delivers a populist crowd-pleaser with his second film "Hit and Run," which debuted in July at Comic-Con. We sat down for an interview at the Hard Rock. While he admires director Steven Soderbergh's run-and-gun filmmaking, Shepard's role model as actor-director is Burt Reynolds in "Smokey and the Bandit" mode. (Trailer and interviews are below.)
And Shepard provides a model for DIY filmmakers. He puts everything on the line in this low-budget (under $100 million," he insists) digital movie, from his wife Kristen Bell ("Gossip Girl") to his two beloved cars, which miraculously survive the film's rigorous action sequences. Shepard plays a reformed getaway car driver living under the radar in the middle of nowhere under the witness protection program; when his girlfriend (Bell) wants to go after a job in Los Angeles, he puts himself back in the line of fire of ex-cohort Bradley Cooper, who would love to kill him. (Pal Cooper starred in Shepard's first movie "Brothers Justice.") In the course of this car chase road trip Bell learns a lot that she didn't know about her boyfriend.
I admired Shepard in Jon Favreau's underappreciated "Zathura" as well as Katie Aselton's "The Freebie," in which he showed his prowess as a leading man who can improv in intimate situations. Clearly, "Hit and Run," which Open Road will open wide August 22, is more of a scruffy date movie than a critic's picture. (Shepard is right to skip the film festival circuit.) But Shepard's eager-to-please, confident fearlessness played well in San Diego, and could please undemanding moviegoers looking for a good 'ol time.