Hit & Run is an action-comedy from the mind of Dax Shepard — the guy from Punk’d and Parenthood — and that much should tell you everything you need to know about it. Shepard writes, co-directs (with David Palmer) and stars in this awkward rom-com-meets-car-chase mash-up which is neither funny nor exciting, shooting for a next-gen Smokey and the Bandit but coming away with one of the least enjoyable films of the year.
Shepard plays Charlie Bronson (don’t even ask), a former getaway driver who now spends his time in witness protection in the small town of Milton with his lovely girlfriend Annie (real life fiancée Kristen Bell), who happens to be a specialist in nonviolent conflict resolution. When Annie is encouraged by her motormouth boss (Kristin Chenoweth) to take a perfect new job in Los Angeles, Bronson reluctantly decides to violate his parole and drive her to the job interview, much to the exasperation of the bumbling US Marshal (an insufferable Tom Arnold) assigned to protect him. Along the way, Annie’s obsessive ex-boyfriend (Michael Rosenbaum) and the vengeful members of Bronson’s former gang (led by a slumming Bradley Cooper) conspire to make him pay, and a series of increasingly dull car chases ensues, punctuated by lazy jokes and a novelty subplot involving a gay sheriff.
Tonally, Hit & Run is all over the show — at times aspiring to be a Vanishing Point-inspired chase film, and at others a juvenile comedy — and the broad, obvious and occasionally offensive attempts at humour actually subtract from any fun that might have been had if this were just a straight genre flick. While Shepard obviously has good chemistry with Bell, he makes for a terrible leading man and his sarcastic and monotone delivery is painful to watch. Cooper — who seems to be trying to branch out now with dramatic roles in The Words and Silver Linings Playbook — is wasting his time here as the eccentric bad guy, delivering what appears to be a lame, toothless mimicry of Gary Oldman’s Drexl from True Romance. Bell is fine as the love interest/moral compass, but like everyone else in this film it feels as though she is just on board to do Shepard a favour.
Hit & Run plays as though everyone involved had a good time making it, but that experience never translates to the audience. I cannot recall a screening I have attended this year which I enjoyed less, and I had to fight the urge to walk out for much of its 100-minute runtime (which felt considerably longer). As both a writer and an actor, Shepard is so smug, sophomoric and unappealing here that it’s enough to make me avoid anything with his name attached to it in the future, and I suggest anyone with more than half a brain ought to avoid this pointless film.
Watch the trailer for Hit & Run below.