Movies: "Hit and Run" | Arts & Culture
Fasten your seatbelts for this one, a comedy-action throwback to the “Smokey and the Bandit” era of car chase movies, with a little bit of “True Romance” thrown in (minus Quentin Tarantino’s sadism).
Kristen Bell co-stars here alongside her real-life boyfriend Dax Shepard, who wrote the movie and co-directed it with David Palmer. Dax plays a sympathetic dude named Charlie Bronson, who’s hiding in the witness protection program in some dusty California town.
Kristen is Annie, a professor at the local community college. Suddenly, she gets word of a great job prospect, heading her own department at UCLA. But she has to get to Los Angeles pronto for the interview -- so Charlie generously decides to drive her there in his customized, 700-horsepower 1967 Lincoln Continental.
And that’s when all sorts of wacky and sometimes dangerous characters get into the act.
There’s Randy (Tom Arnold), an accident-prone US Marshal; Gil (Michael Rosenbaum, who played Lex Luthor in the “Smallville” TV series), Annie’s ex-boyfriend, who quickly figures out Charlie’s history and real name; and then there’s Dmitri (Bradley Cooper, even with dreadlocks looking a lot better than he did in the “Hangover” franchise), the unpredictably violent bank robber and former friend that Charlie informed on.
Before long, all of these players (and more) are involved in a series of high-speed chases and shoot-outs along desert highways and side roads in a colorful assortment of high-powered vehicles (some of them reportedly from Shepard’s personal collection). These are accompanied by some killer rock music cuts, from Jimi Hendrix, among others.
Some moviegoers love car chases, but the real fun in this movie is the obvious chemistry between Kristen and Dax: like his driving, their relationship is all over the road as she learns more and more about his previous life of crime even as he’s desperately trying to get her to that college interview without getting them both shot.
Audiences will also enjoy seeing a number of cameos, many of them by actors in acclaimed TV comedies. Kristin Chenoweth shows up as a randy, pill-popping college administrator; Beau Bridges (yay!) is on hand as Charlie’s dad; Jason Bateman appears briefly, as does Sean Hayes. I also liked Jess Rowland’s take as an openly gay sheriff’s deputy.
“Hit and Run” is no big deal, and if you’re not into vehicular acrobatics it may not be your cup of tea. But it does offer some appealing characters, a smart screenplay and some moments of genuine comedy. You could do a lot worse.
It’s rated R for violence, language and some startling elderly nudity. You heard me. It’s definitely a B movie, and that’s the grade I give it.