Written, co-directed, and starring Dax Shepard Hit & Run is, simply put, a mess of a film likely to remind viewers of similar recent train wrecks such as Smokin’ Aces and Catch .44. Shepard stars as Charlie Bronson, a getaway driver from Los Angeles now living in the middle of nowhere in the Witness Protection Program. When his girlfriend Annie (Kristen Bell) gets an interview for her dream job in Los Angeles, Charlie throws caution to the wind and decides to go with her.
Their road to L.A. is complicated by Annie’s stalker ex-boyfriend Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) intent on proving Charlie is nothing but a crook, Charlie’s ridiculous United States Marshal (Tom Arnold) in charge of his safety, and the even more ridiculous Alex Dimitri (Bradley Cooper) the man who Charlie testified against and is still looking for revenge. Gil, knowing Charlie’s secret, contacts Dimitri in a last-ditch attempt to win back Annie by getting her current boyfriend killed. Yeah… that’s the kind of logic central to ever single plot point in Hit & Run.
The further Charlie and Annie go on their journey the more apparent it becomes how little she knows about Charlie’s life before signing up for Witness Protection. And the more she learns about Charlie’s past, and his connection to the man who wants him dead, the less sure she becomes about her own safety and future. Despite this, and the amount of danger they find themselves in over the course of the movie, the end result is never in doubt.
Like Annie, the more the audience learns about Charlie the harder it becomes to root for him to succeed. Shepard is fine cast in the dimwitted but good-hearted slacker role, but by the end of the movie, despite the lengths he goes to protect Annie, it’s near impossible to see these two staying together for any length of time (no matter what the script may want us to believe).
With the exception of Annie, every other character in the movie is a broad caricature that’s impossible to take seriously. Is Dimitri dangerous? Possibly, but with his stupid hairdo and even stupider actions it’s hard to tell. And although Arnold provides plenty of cheap laughs, his performance is only slightly more dignified than flashing strangers on the street. And Jess Rowland certainly draws the short straw, which when you think about it is really saying something for this movie, for his role as Gil’s brother, a young gay cop infatuated with a new phone app used to find other men for hookups.
The only real bright spot in the entire movie is Kristen Bell. It’s great to see Bell play against type and get away from the regular cold bitch starring and supporting roles she seems so often trapped in. Bell is terrific imbuing Annie with heart, complex emotions over her boyfriend’s past, and anxiety about the course of her life. Annie turns out to be a great character for her, I just wish it was in a better film.
Despite Bell’s performance I can’t recommend the film, even on late night cable (much less in the theater). With glaring flaws in story, tone and character Hit & Run is the kind of movie everyone should want to remove from their resume as soon as possible. The film has some flashes, and even if it is far more moronic than it needs to be the best I can say about it is it’s never boring. Dumber than most of the characters in Idiocracy, yes, but never boring. I guess that’s something.