Neither funny or exciting, Hit & Run is a goofy chase movie that’s unfortunately not worth seeing. It has a few moments of inspiration, and a couple of dialogue exchanges that are more poignant than they have any right to be, but on the whole is surprisingly slow-paced and far duller than it should have been. It’s the type of movie actors make on their off-days as a fun joke so that they can hang out with other actor friends and have a fun time making a movie.
The film was written by, produced by, co-directed by, and stars Dax Shepard, without whom the film would not exist. He even roped his wife, Kristen Bell, into starring with him. Shepard plays Charlie Bronson — no, seriously — a man who has been enrolled in the Witness Protection Program which places him in a small town under the watch of a somewhat silly U.S. Marshal (Tom Arnold). He is in love with his girlfriend, Annie (Bell), who has no idea why he’s in Witness Protection. She just knows he saw something, testified against some people, and if he goes to Los Angeles he might be found and killed.
As chance would have it, the film opens with Annie being offered a job in Los Angeles, teaching a program not offered anywhere else in the state, or perhaps the world. She has to get there by a certain amount of time, but she can’t take the love of her life because of his protected status. He decides that love is more important than his life and the two head out. Soon, they’re hunted down by a criminal (Bradley Cooper) and his girlfriend (Joy Bryant), Annie’s ex-boyfriend (Michael Rosenbaum), and the Marshal played by Tom Arnold.
So, it’s a chase movie. The characters have a destination to reach, the other characters hope to prevent them for reaching it, classic cars are driven by half the characters, and that’s that. Small breaks are given so Bell and Shepard can riff about relationships, or other strange comedy happenings can occur. Most of it is far more annoying than funny, but your sense of humor might gel with what Hit & Run has to offer.
Picture this scene in your head. A duo is given a hotel room. They enter the room. Inside are a bunch of elderly naked people. They leave the room and remark how that was the wrong room and an unpleasant experience. That’s the whole scene. Did you laugh? Did you cringe? Do you think doing it again, later, will make it even funnier? If you answered “no” to any of the laughter questions, you’re in my camp. It’s not funny. It’s weird and maybe cringe-worthy, but not humorous, which seemed to be the intent.
If the comedy doesn’t work, at least we get car chases, right? Well, they exist, but you’ll only think they’re good if they’re the first car chases you’ve ever seen in a movie. They’re boring, repetitive, and haven’t had anything done to make them more exciting than they are. No stylistic flourish, no great shots — nothing. You’ve got classic cars going relatively fast but it’s no more entertaining than the dozens of other car chases you’ve seen in your lifetime.
And it’s not even like you’re rooting for the characters. The lead is a slacker who doesn’t work and lies to his girlfriend. The girlfriend whines about things that don’t matter and doesn’t say anything about some things that do. The criminals sound like they once watched a Tarantino movie and based their entire personality around it. The Tom Arnold character is more annoying than funny. These actors have all been good before but it just doesn’t work here. There’s nothing to invest in.
About the only thing that Hit & Run has going for it are some of the conversations between Shepard and Bell. Some of the things they have to say about relationships — and, in particular, conflict resolution — are smart and kind of funny. The two actors do have an easygoing chemistry — they’re married in real life, so that can be expected — and their exchanges serve as the film’s highlights. Is there anything else to like? Not really. If you like strange and quirky things you might find some enjoyment out of a couple of oddball scenes, but most of the picture is too conventional to even take full advantage of that.
Is there any reason to see Hit & Run? Sure. If you want to support Dax Shepard, who appeared to be the main reason this film got made at all, you might want to give it a watch. Or, if you believe anything that’s strange is funny, you’ll laugh a few times. And if you’ve never before seen a car chase, the ones here will amaze. If you don’t fit into any of these three categories, you should skip this movie. It’s dull and unfunny and isn’t worth your time.