Movie review: ‘Hit & Run’ hits the spot

By Kelsey Rocha

Daily Bruin, U. California-Los Angeles via UWIRE

As a mixture of Bradley Cooper in dreadlocks, an unconventional road trip and ex-bank robbers, “Hit & Run” is quite the romantic comedy cocktail. Dax Shepard’s new film is an ode to awesome cars, guns and his fiancee Kristen Bell. On top of that, the film also intersperses gut-busting humor with sweet and sentimental moments making this the ultimate date movie: an action-packed, car-chasing romantic comedy.

Shepard, in addition to writing and directing the film, also plays the lead as Charlie Bronson. While hiding out in witness protection, he falls in love with Annie Bean (Kristen Bell). Bean is soon offered her dream job in Los Angeles, the very place Bronson has been hiding from. He decides to risk it, and a wild goose-chase ensues while Bronson and Bean are driving to Los Angeles. His dirty past as a getaway driver comes back to haunt him in the form of Alex Dimitri (Bradley Cooper), Bronson’s past partner-in-crime.

The screen really comes to life once the high-speed cars hit the road; an amped-up Lincoln and a monster dune buggy are among the most memorable. Both are equipped with 700 horsepower and are capable of incredible stunt work. In one scene, Bronson’s dune buggy drives through a barn wall and proceeds to jump over another car.

More impressive than the cars is the driving talent. Shepard did all his own stunt driving with Bell in the passenger seat. Likewise, Cooper and other cast members followed suit and performed much of their own stunt driving. The races are loud and fast, yet they are filmed in coordination with slow, classy music such as “Pure Imagination,” which brings a comedic and ironic vibe to typical chase scenes.

The visuals in this movie provide the perfect contrast of open road and vibrant speed machines. Few would accuse the scenery as being picturesque as it features dry shrubbery, small towns, and a lot of dirt and road. Yet, this setting provides a very simple backdrop for the car chases. Visually, these chase scenes are excellent because although the cars move very quickly, they weren’t so fast that viewers couldn’t tell what was going on.

The acting is very refreshing for the honesty it conveys, not a common characteristic among romantic comedies or action films. When Bell cries on-screen it’s real and vulnerable. Similarly, Shepard’s character banters with and teases Bean in a way that is typical of a real-life couple while simultaneously portraying a guy who is head-over-heels. Neither character says cliched lines the audience has heard a hundred times before such as: “You complete me, and I’d die without you.”

As a film that plays on the unexpected, viewers are always on the edge of their seats, wondering what could possibly happen next. Granted, as a romantic comedy, the plot of the film is relatively easy to guess at. However, wild-card characters in the script, such as Randy the state marshal (Tom Arnold) and Bean’s ex-boyfriend Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) deliver particularly funny lines and get themselves into outrageous and humorous situations. Randy, for example, seems to be the only state marshal in existence who cannot properly handle a firearm. In this unconventional road trip, it really is the journey that counts because the audience knows where Bronson and Bean are going, but it’s how they get there that is a riot to watch.

While “Hit & Run” provides endless laughs, it sometimes comes across as slightly insensitive. Be forewarned, this is not a film for those who easily take offense. The film makes cracks at race, rape, homosexuality and law enforcement, among other things. Although, the film points out its own crude jokes, which depletes their offensive punch and creates even more comedic dialogue.

“Hit & Run” is a film genre all its own. While it circulates around a very touching couple’s relationship, it also keeps the audience engaged with impressive car-chase scenes and outlandish humor. The film above all is an anthem to the well-known phrase “live in the moment.” With this ideal in mind, it seems that anyone, even former bank robbers can get fresh starts.

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