HIT & RUN (David Palmer and Dax Shepard, 2012)
choice Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) faces in HIT & RUN is tough
but simple. He can support his girlfriend Annie (Kristen Bell) and move
with her to Los Angeles, where she is virtually assured of getting her
dream professorial job if she makes the scheduled interview, or Charlie
can let her go and end a meaningful relationship so he stays safe and
secure 500 miles away in witness protection in Milton, California.
She’s willing to sacrifice the opportunity to remain with him, but he
can’t allow that to be an option.
Annie knows her boyfriend is under the watch of bumbling U.S. marshal
Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold), she doesn’t know the extent of Charlie’s
past. He was a getaway driver who testified against his friends and
accomplices. He’s been away from L.A. for four years and now goes by an
assumed name, but returning to his old stomping grounds could still be
dangerous. Charlie throws caution to the wind, eases his 1967 black,
custom-built Lincoln Continental out of storage, and sets out for the
big city with his best gal.
car is in impeccable condition. It’s also the one thing that can
connect Charlie to his history. Annie’s jealous ex-boyfriend Gil
(Michael Rosenbaum) has long been suspicious of Charlie, so when he sees
him leaving town with her in the Continental, he calls in the license
plate number to his police officer brother Terry (Jess Rowland). From the license plate Gil learns Charlie’s real name, which he uses to dig up news of his
old partners in crime and inform dreadlocked Alex Dmitri (Bradley
Cooper) that his turncoat pal is coming their direction. What was to be
an inconspicuous return trip becomes a chase, with Gil, Alex and
associates, the police, and exasperated fed Randy on the lookout for
Charlie and Annie.
no mistaking HIT & RUN as a showcase piece for co-director, writer,
and co-lead Shepard, but it’s not the one expected from its set-up.
He’s made a chatty romantic comedy with bitchin’ cars and coarse humor
rather than the action movie it might be mistaken for at face value.
Shepard grants equal respect to the mechanics of relationships and
automobiles in accommodating the unknown history that comes with being
involved with a new person or a used vehicle. Unlike a lot of
relationship-based films, this one understands the need for accepting
the mileage that can’t be rolled back.
the discursive nature of the screenplay can stall HIT & RUN a
little too often, the conversational detours often rate as the best
parts. Charlie and Annie’s pillow talk in the opening scene performs
spectacularly in establishing their personalities and vulnerabilities.
While on the road their discussion about what he considers an
inoffensive use of a slur and her objection to it beautifully and
humorously dissects language and intention. Alex’s shared opinion and
object lesson on dog food stands among the comedic highlights while
giving shading to the film’s ostensible villain.
has consistently proven to be a funny but often underappreciated
contributor in supporting roles. His performance ought to draw
attention to the appealing, offbeat actor he is. As a writer and
director Shepard proves to be generous with the other actors. (Co-director David Palmer surely deserves credit in this area too.)
Bell, his off-screen partner, receives one of her best roles since
VERONICA MARS ended. HIT & RUN’s Annie is more than a stock
girlfriend who needs to be saved or is holding back the male
protagonist. Bell’s timing is sharp in the comedic give and take, and
she sells the equality and emotional stress in her relationship with
Charlie. Cooper does weird and funny work without running wild. HIT
& RUN isn’t always a smooth ride, but the quirks and misfires make
it as distinctive as the actor behind many of the film’s creative