Sunday, August 26, 2012

“Hit & Run” – Surprising surprises.

The first thing you need to know about Hit and Run is that the previews are lying to you. Like me, I’m sure you think Bradley Cooper is the main character in this film. The previews heavily portray Cooper, making it look like the story revolves around him when, in fact, he is the antagonist and actually has relatively few scenes. What isn’t a lie is that the film is part action and part comedy and is definitely funnier than the other comedy currently out, The Campaign. Those of you who’ve followed my reviews know how I feel about Will Ferrell and his so called ‘comedies’ and The Campaign looks just as stupid as everything else he’s done. Case in point, which do you think is funnier: a) Ferrell punching a baby or b) Tom Arnold chasing a runaway minivan on foot, shooting at it in an effort to stop it? That’s what I thought.

Hit and Run is actually centered on Charlie Bronson, a.k.a. Yul Perkins (Dax Shepard), a man in witness protection, and his girlfriend Annie (Kristen Bell). The two live in a tiny little town, Yul under the protection of Randy (Tom Arnold), a nearly incompetent U.S. Marshal, and Annie working as a teacher at a local college. When Annie is offered a dream job in Los Angeles, Yul decides her happiness is worth opting out of witness protection. Unfortunately, he doesn’t count on Annie’s ex-boyfriend, Gil, following them and alerting Alex Dimitri (Cooper), the guy Yul is hiding from, as to Yul’s whereabouts. From there, the movie follows Annie and Yul as they try to get to L.A. while trying to avoid getting caught and killed by Alex.

The best thing about this movie (besides NOT featuring Will Ferrell) is that it blends the action, comedy, and even the romance very well. Surprisingly, the relationship between Annie and Yul is the real strength of the film. Shepard and Bell have extremely good chemistry together (this should go without saying since they’re engaged in reality) and their banter is witty and funny. They even manage to throw in some social commentary without bludgeoning the audience over the head with it. The action occurs whenever Alex shows up, he being a thief and murderer who wants to get back at Yul for sending him to prison. His scenes involve car chases, shootings, beatings, and more car chases. What’s better is that the role goes against Cooper’s typical protagonist roles and you still find a small piece of yourself rooting for him. Mixed into all of this is the comedy, which comes from all sorts of different angles. From the happy couple’s banter, to some sight gags (including a somewhat disturbing nude scene), to Tom Arnold being Tom Arnold (easily his best performance since True Lies), you’ll find yourself laughing almost constantly. Toss in a small role from Kristin Chenoweth that flies completely in the face of her Broadway reputation and we have arguably the best comedy of the year.

Perhaps the biggest surprise (for me at least) was how much I enjoyed Kristen Bell. In every other movie I’ve seen her in, I’ve hoped something bad would happen to her character – eaten by a shark in Couples Retreat, killed by Sylar in Heroes, eaten by a shark in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I know it was the character, but she always seemed to play an irritating, whiny snot and just rubbed me the wrong way. This time, I found myself thoroughly enjoying her character. This time, her character was vulnerable, sympathetic, and downright charming. Yeah, I said charming. And not once did I want her to get shot by Alex, or maimed in a car accident, or eaten by a shark. It’s the first performance of hers that was a complete performance and I think some of the credit has to go to her fiancé.

The final surprise was that Dax Shepard wrote and co-directed the film. I was definitely not expecting this and it made me happy to know that there is at least one good writer in Hollywood and that it’s someone I enjoy watching as an actor. Shepard had the audience in constant laughter and the timing of the action and comedy throughout the film created a nearly perfect flow. My hope now is that he continues to pen comedies so people will have more choices other than having to choose between Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler garbage. That, and Kristen Bell retains her newfound charm because there’s a hungry shark somewhere.

Rating: Don’t ask for any money back, though it’ll be hard not to after you see the scene referred to as a “lemon party.” No amount of money can help you unsee that.

No comments:

Post a Comment