Runtime: 1 HR, 40 MIN
Director: Dax Shepard, David Palmer
Writers: Dax Shepard
Starring: Dax Shepard, Kristin Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Michael Rosenbaum, Kristin Chenoweth, Joy Bryant, David Koechner, and Beau Bridges
Dax Shepard is not one of my favorite actors; I don’t hate him, I don’t particularly like him, I am however mostly indifferent to him. Looking back over his filmography none of his work stands out aside from Let’s Go To Prison which I vaguely remember finding somewhat amusing the one and only time I saw it about five years ago. Flash forward to 2012 and he’s not only starring in a film called Hit & Run but he also wrote and co-directed it which brings up two ‘interesting’ questions… A. Should I care if Dax Shepard is writing, directing and starring in his own movie? and B. Is the aforementioned film any good or even worth watching? The answer to both those questions is a resounding no.
Charlie Bronson (I’m serious) is in witness protection and is living with his college professor girlfriend Annie. When Annie gets a job offer in Los Angles Charlie decides to abandon his life in witness protection to go with her. Soon a jealous ex-boyfriend, some clueless local Cops, a bumbling US Marshall, and some vengeful criminals are all chasing Charlie and Annie across California where a simple hit & run would be the least of their problems.
To be short and to the point I didn’t care for Hit and Run but it’s hard to completely dismiss the film. Hit and Run doesn’t have high aspirations and when the bar is set so low it’s harder to criticize when it doesn’t deliver. It doesn’t work as a comedy because it’s not very funny and it doesn’t work as an action film because the action is diffused by poorly conceived comedy. It’s essentially Dax Shepard’s version of Smokey and the Bandit except it’s not funny and Dax Shepard is a poor substitute for Burt Reynolds.
Dax Shepard is engaged to Kristen Bell and is friends with Bradley Cooper. The whole film feels like they all got together and said, “Wouldn’t it be fun if we all made a movie together?” but then they forgot that good movies have certain needs like a decent script. Character development and motivation for the most part is an afterthought. It’s like trying to create a picture from four completely different puzzles; individual pieces might have sounded good on paper but none of them fit together properly. Just imagine if a Kevin Smith fanboy and a Quentin Tarantino fanboy wrote a script together that featured the worst attributes of both writing styles and you’d come up with something resembling Hit and Run.
The script doesn’t do the cast any favors but Hit and Run could be a lot worse. The main cast comprising of Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, and Bradley Cooper aren’t terrible but are hindered by the script; almost everyone is unevenly written with personality changes being added with all the subtlety of a square peg being pounded into a round hole. Kristen Bell’s role suffers the worst from this as her character is stuck on an emotional merry-go-round for the last half of the film until the most convenient moment to get back on track.
The absolute worst aspect of Hit and Run comes in the form of Tom Arnold. I didn’t think it was possible for him to sink any further into the bowels of hellish acting but somehow he did. He’s over the top, manic, and just plain annoying, and if he wasn’t so adamant about being clean and sober I would swear he was high. It’s hard to feel bad for Tom Arnold; his performance was embarrassing, and there’s probably a Razzie Award nomination in his future for Hit and Run.
If there’s one small saving grace for Hit and Run it’s the car chases. They don’t reinvent the wheel (no pun intended) by any means, but they’re far more entertaining than the never ending clever-wannabe dialogue. Using real cars instead of CGI is a nice throwback to the car chase films of the 1970s that Hit and Run is trying to pay homage to, but it’s still handled sloppily with far too many scenes having the pavement full of skid marks from previous takes. Hit and Run gets an A for effort, but a C on execution.
Hit and Run is a direct to DVD release masquerading as a theatrical release. It cost nearly nothing to make so it’s not a big gamble for the studio if it fails to attract an audience at the box office, which I doubt it will. If you’re a Dax Shepard, Kristin Bell, or god forbid a Tom Arnold fan you might find something to enjoy here, but otherwise you should definitely skip & run from Hit and Run.