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Hit and Run (2012)

March 10, 2013

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written by: Dax Shepard 

produced by: Andrew Panay, Nate Tuck, Kim Waltrip, Jim Casey & Dax Shepard

directed by: Dax Shepard and David Palmer

rating: R (for pervasive language including sexual references, graphic nudity, some violence and drug content)

runtime: 100 min. 

U.S. release date: August 22, 2012

 

Over the 1970s and 1980s, a sub-genre of flicks came along that audiences ate up. They weren’t road movies in the typical sense, but instead on steroids a bit. Think of movies like “Smokey and the Bandit”, “Cannonball Run”, “The Getaway”, “Midnight Run” and many others along with TV shows like The Dukes of Hazard.. What if you combined all those movies? Then you’d get the oddly appealing, very entertaining 2012 flick “Hit and Run”.

Living in a quiet California town, Charles Bronson (Dax Shepard) has been dating his girlfriend, Annie (Kristen Bell), for almost a year. They’ve got a great thing going, impressive considering Annie knows Charlie is in the Witness Protection Program after testifying against several bank robbers he witnessed robbing a bank. There’s a problem though. Annie has been offered her dream job in Los Angeles, and she doesn’t want to leave Charlie behind. Knowing how much it means to her, he decides to go with to L.A., but ah, there are more layers to discover. Annie’s ex, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), suspects Charlie is up to something and starts to dig into his mysterious past. As they head for L.A., someone from Charlie’s past (Bradley Cooper) is on their trail. What hasn’t he been telling Annie?

 

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I’ll give credit where it’s due. Dax Shepard has come a long way from being Ashton Kutcher’s henchman on MTV’s Punk’d in 2003. He’s transitioned that supporting part on a prank show into a legitimate actor on film and television. That’s not all. On top of his acting, Shepard also directed (with David Palmer), produced, and wrote the script for this flick with a retro, throwback feel to it. He shows a knack for doing all those things well, a solid directorial debut.

The biggest appeal is that retro/throwback feel to so many similar flicks from the 1970s and 1980s. Yes, there is a story — however shallow and/or simplistic — is a means to an end. It’s nothing more than to get the story going toward a never-ending, fast paced series of car chases with lots of badass cards and funny, cool one-liners. I find that very appealing. ‘Hit’ isn’t trying to rewrite the formula or carve out a niche for itself as a new end-all, be-all flick. It’s goal is simple. It wants to entertain the hell out of you, and for me, it succeeds in a big way. Some of the humor can be pretty low-brow while other times it’s surprisingly smart, but who am I kidding? You don’t go into a movie like this expecting to see anything groundbreaking. Just sit back and enjoy the very cool, very fast cars gunning across the country after you.

 

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Maybe a little surprising for me was that the story is actually pretty good here. A real-life couple outside of acting, Shepard and Bell have a very natural, easy-going chemistry with each other. Maybe they’re just being themselves, but they’re a believable enough couple. Their couple/relationship story works because of the general craziness of Shepard’s Charlie’s past. (Sidenote: He chose Charles Bronson as his Witness Protection name because his real name, ‘Yul Perrkins,’ wasn’t tough enough). I suppose this is a semi-SPOILER, but Charlie/Yul didn’t just testify in a bank robbing case….he turned on his former bank robbing accomplices (including Cooper). Charlie and Annie are forced to figure out how important they are to each other, and oh yeah, some bank robbing thugs with guns are after them. It’s kinda goofy, kinda sweet, and always funny.

Pretty much across the board, the casting here is….shall I say oddly appealing? Cooper shows off his versatility as the Hurley-wearing, dreadlock-toting bank robber Alex Dmitri in a surprisingly funny part. Joy Bryant and Ryan Hansen play Neve and Alan, two other members of Alex’s crew. Completely out of left field, the usually shrill, annoying Tom Arnold is a scene-stealer in a good way as Randy, a U.S. Marshal with Witness Protection assigned to watch over Charlie. His general clumsiness and nerves provides some good laughs as well as his ability with a pistol. There’s also a funny sub-plot with Gil’s gay brother (Jess Rowland),  a cop and his partner (Carly Hatter). Also look for Beau Bridges in a funny part as Charlie’s Dad with Kristen Chenoweth, David Koechner and Sean Hayes all making quick appearances. Even Jason Bateman makes a one-scene cameo.

No real point in analyzing this one too much. It’s funny, entertaining and has a lot that certainly looks like they’re having a hell of a lot of fun. I went in with low expectations for this one, but I liked it a lot. Surprisingly good flick with a lot of laughs.

 

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RATING: ***

 

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Wendi F permalink
    March 14, 2013 11:33 pm

    I secretly enjoyed this movie a lot. I though Shepard was endearing and I liked all the light pouring in through the cinematography. Also I’m a sucker for car films.

    • March 21, 2013 6:41 pm

      I was surprised by how much I liked it, Wendi. I went in with low expectations, but came away really enjoying it. Go figure!

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