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With: Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Michael Rosenbaum, Kristin Chenoweth, Beau Bridges, Joy Bryant, Jess Rowland, David Koechner, Carly Hatter, Ryan Hansen
Written by: Dax Shepard
Directed by: David Palmer, Dax Shepard
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language including sexual references, graphic nudity, some violence and drug content
Running Time: 100
Date: 08/02/2012

Hit and Run (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Hot Wheels

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I didn't know much about Dax Shepard when I went into Hit and Run. When I originally saw the trailer for the movie, I thought the lead might have been a Wilson brother -- if not Owen or Luke, then maybe a sibling? When I looked him up, I saw that he was one of the stars of TV's "Punk'd," a show I have never seen and hope never to see. Also, he had the only funny line in the horrible When in Rome, a line that was shown in the trailer but inexplicably cut from the actual movie. (Admiring his abs in a mirror, he says "hey, could someone call the vet, because these puppies are sick!")

Turns out Shepard is something of a filmmaker, having directed a short film and written and directed a feature called Brother's Justice. Also, in addition to having good abs, he's also dating his When in Rome co-star Kristen Bell, who stars opposite him in Hit and Run. If you can forgive all that, then Hit and Run is a very good, tightly-structured, breezily fun crime film in the Tarantino mode.

Shepard plays "Charlie Bronson," a former criminal living in a witness protection program in the middle of nowhere. But he's happy because he's dating teacher Annie (Bell). Unfortunately, she gets a job in Los Angeles, the one city Charlie probably shouldn't be, but he decides to move there with her anyway. Annie's ex-boyfriend Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) learns about Charlie's former life -- as a getaway driver for bank robbers -- and contacts his former partners, who are looking for revenge.

And so, Hit and Run turns into a cross-country chase comedy -- with an occasional break for fights -- with Charlie and Annie pursued by Gil, Charlie's U.S. marshal guardian (Tom Arnold), a gay sheriff (Jess Rowland), and his former partners, Alex (Bradley Cooper), Neve (Joy Bryant), and Allen (Ryan Hansen).

With cool, fast cars, funky hairstyles and sinister, truck stop hillbillies, Hit and Run is perhaps trying to look like a 1970s-era grindhouse classic, though it comes closer to -- as others have pointed out -- Smokey and the Bandit. It's silly and cheerful, but at its core, Shepard has written a decent relationship drama into it. Charlie and Annie's interactions range from playful to defensive to argumentative. It's a far from perfect relationship and as the movie goes we can see them working on it, and fighting for it, in a realistic way.

This isn't a groundbreaking movie, and it turns sour when it detours to make fun of old people or gay people, but it will make an entertaining diversion when it comes to DVD and streaming and cable. Perhaps, if you're the right kind of couple, it could be a cool date movie.

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