Maybe you’re tired of summer blockbusters –with budgets the size of the Mars Rover mission– that have little to show for themselves beyond eye-popping special effects. Maybe you’re tired of comic book franchises and sci-fi reboots with writing as juvenile as an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. Maybe you are looking for something smart and funny that restores your faith in mainstream motion pictures.
Directed by: David Palmer, Dax Shepard
Written by: Dax Shepard
Starring: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell and Bradley Cooper
Look no farther than Hit and Run, the road-action-buddy-comedy film from Dax Shepard, who wrote, directed, and starred in this late-summer sleeper that puts films with budgets ten times its size to shame.
I must admit, I am not familiar with any other work of Dax Shepard’s. A quick check of IMDB reveals him to be an actor in some TV series and films that aren’t widely recognized. The release of Hit and Run may vault him to the next level, as it summons witty dialogue reminiscent of Pulp Fiction, a story line that recalls A History of Violence, and even somehow manages to inject the goofy tonality of Cannonball Run into the fray.
Hit and Run’s plot is at once straight forward and as twisty as an ess-curve. A man in witness protection, living under the name Charlie Bronson (that should tell you all you need to know about the tone the movie strikes) in wine country, wishes to take the woman he loves (Annie, played by Kristin Bell) to Los Angeles for a chance at her dream job. Before leaving town, Annie’s jealous ex-boyfriend drops a dime on Charlie to the criminals he testified against. The crooks are led by Bradley Cooper of The Hangover fame (another classic, road screwball comedy), and seeking to protect Charlie is Tom Arnold’s character Randy, who’s a gay US Marshall who can’t work his gun (not a pun) and can barely drive his mini-van. Add to all of this some high-octane chase scenes that might have you thinking Drive, and you’ve got a cross-California comedy that is one of the better movies that I have seen this summer, if not all year.
What stands out most is the tightly written screenplay. It’s often amazing that a nine figure budgeted film has more holes than Swiss Cheese and more loose ends than a five-year old’s shoe laces. I don’t know the exact budget of Hit and Run, but it’s clearly on the more modest size. It has some nice chase scenes and visual style, but its strength is in the script, which holds up at every crazy turn. It used to be the case that the script was everything, but in too many cases these days concept and spectacle crowds out story. Not so with Hit and Run, which strikes every note right and features performances that make great writing only stronger on screen.
Hit and Run won’t win awards or get much buzz on ‘Entertainment Tonight,’ but if you’re looking for a fun, well-crafted movie that doesn’t make you feel like the GNP of a small nation went into making a stinker, then check this one out.