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Sunday, September 30, 2012

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(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 6 October 2012)

Cast: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Tom Arnold, Bradley Cooper, Kristin Chenoweth, Beau Bridges, Michael Rosenbaum, Jess Rowland
Directors: Dax Shepard, David Palmer
Rating: 4 stars
When Hit and Run opens to Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard), who appears to have either a tattoo or a skin disorder (or perhaps both), giving his partner Annie (Kristen Bell) a pep talk, I thought with some horror that I was actually about to watch a serious love story starring Dax Shepard. But before Annie eventually wells up, they get sidetracked by an argument about hair-pulling and wrist-gripping. I knew I was safe – for the next ninety minutes or so, there would be plenty of laughs, and little work for my brain.
The dialogue seems improvised, when they go on about how he’s “five years older” and giggle about small pox and urinary-tract infection. The first real indication of this being a not-so-normal film is when US Marshal Randy (Tom Arnold) “ghost-drives” his car. In other words, he tries to shoot its tyres before it can run over two kids playing in a suburban yard. Next thing we know, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) and Randy are in hot pursuit of a runaway couple, for their respective attachments to its component halves.
It’s obvious that the film is low-budget. Inevitably, it’s lowbrow. There’s comic relief within the comic relief – such as the part where we find out how Charlie got both his names, one of which “sounds like a character from Sesame Street”. And then, there are times when we’re not sure whether we’re supposed to find something funny or horrifying – such as Alex Dimitri’s (Bradley Cooper’s) run-in with a fellow-customer at a departmental store. Either way, we laugh.
The premise of the film is ridiculous. The relationships it forges between its barely-developed characters are bizarre. And it attributes such ridiculous eccentricities to them – the badass earnestly campaigns for canine rights – that they are almost believable.
It’s obvious that nobody takes the script seriously, least of all the actors. I think the longest shot in the film, and the longest discussion on any one subject, involves an amateur analysis of the relative femininity of males of various ethnic groups.
Throughout, there’s a sense of there’s-no-way-in-hell-this-could-actually-happen, but the film is populated by everyday events that make us relate to these weirdos, their crazy agendas, and their inane observations. A movie that is unapologetically over-the-top demands music that is completely incongruous with the visuals, and Julian Wass provides that.
The film tries every now and then to get deep, with lines like, “You can either wallow in someone’s past, or you can see the person standing right in front of you.” But it mostly stays true to its genre, and doesn’t trouble us with anything more than a single dimension, and practically no plot.
The Verdict: Hit and Run is by no means an achievement of filmmaking, but it guarantees an hour and a half of mindless fun after a long day at work.


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