Pin It

Return of the Car Chase 

Hit & Run proves that there’s still room for a high-horsepower comedy

click to enlarge art18321.jpg
There was a time when car chase movies were king. When Steve McQueen tore up the road behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang in Bullitt (1968) and Gene Hackman took on the public transit system with his Pontiac Le Mans in The French Connection (1970); when Burt Reynolds showed what a Pontiac Trans Am could do in Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Jake and Elwood Blues went on a cross-country ride in a Dodge Monaco in The Blues Brothers (1980).

Car chase movies have come and gone, but this one — featuring, at least in the first half, a 1967 Lincoln Continental with, mind you, 700 horses under the hood — has a few extras. Along with the wild action, you get some slapstick comedy and a wholly believable hunk of heart.

Written in just under three weeks by Dax Shepard (he also co-directs with his pal David Palmer), the film has the shaggy dog feel of, well, something that was written in just under three weeks. It’s about Charlie Bronson (Shepard), a fellow who’s been holed up in a little town, courtesy of witness protection, for a few years but has decided to come out so his girlfriend Annie (Shepard’s real-life wife Kristen Bell) can take a job back in L.A., whence he fled after turning state’s evidence on a bank robber.

The gist of the film is that the road trip back to L.A. turns into a run for his life, since the fellow he ratted on (a curiously dreadlocked Bradley Cooper), angry as all get-out, has been tipped off and is after him. Hence that car chase, and it’s a good one, split up into sections in order to give the actors time to deliver dialogue, tell stories, be funny and get romantic.

That’s where the believability factor comes in. There’s a whole lot of autobiography going on. In the film, Charlie (yes, it’s his witness protection name) and Annie have been together for a year. As the story unfolds, she suddenly starts learning all kinds of things about his past — about, as he puts it, “the old me.” In real life, Shepard and Bell have been an item for about five years. Both have said in recent interviews that their first year together consisted of Shepard revealing tidbits such as his past drinking and drug abuse, as well as his tendency not to back down from fistfights.

The combination of Shepard, the writer, having a good ear for dialogue, and Shepard and Bell, the actors, not being afraid to let their own lives kind of hang out onscreen makes for some refreshing movie watching. Of course, that could get a little tired after a while, so the script is peppered with a little something for everyone.

Tom Arnold, playing Randy, a small-town cop who’s helping Charlie hide out but having a great deal of comic trouble with moving vehicles and guns, provides most of the comedy relief, and Arnold is on fire here, running around yelling, ready to take a pratfall like a pro. Cooper, still best known for his Hangover roles, doesn’t go the comedy route this time. Instead, he pulls off an almost-convincing bad guy part, sometimes oozing menace, sometimes just standing around looking odd (note: this man should never wear dreads).

There’s a surfeit of cameos, only one of which will be revealed here: Beau Bridges as Charlie’s dad; a bit of irony. Amongst the plentiful violence, we learn that Annie has a “non-violent conflict doctorate” and many opportunities for Shepard and Bell to react to each other via funny, snappy, insightful talk and a wide variety of facial expressions. These people are fun to hang out with. 


  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Closing the Book
  • Closing the Book

    Peter Jackson bids farewell to his hobbits with one last, great movie
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • The One Who Knocks
  • The One Who Knocks

    Why an Australian indie called The Babadook became one of 2014's creepiest films
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Let My People Go Big
  • Let My People Go Big

    Exodus: Gods and Kings fails when it tries to humanize its spectacle
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
MicroCinema Event

MicroCinema Event @ Spokane INK Art Space

Thu., Dec. 18

All of today's events | Staff Picks


More by Ed Symkus

  • Closing the Book
  • Closing the Book

    Peter Jackson bids farewell to his hobbits with one last, great movie
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • Stranger Than Fiction

    Jon Stewart tries his hand at directing with the true story Rosewater
    • Nov 12, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Fresh Spin

    A local record shop is reincarnated under a new owner, giving this generation a taste of vinyl
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • Hairy Matters

    L.A. glam-metal pioneers Mötley Crüe are calling it quits, and that's not necessarily a good thing.
    • Nov 19, 2014
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film



© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation