Hit & Run

09 Sep

I feel like I’m the car with Dax Shepard right now. And we’re doing high speed donuts. I’m screaming my head off because it’s exhilarating, and I can’t stop smiling, but I’m also scared to death. Okay, so maybe my feelings about his new movie Hit & Run aren’t quite that high stakes, but at the end of it, I felt like I was stepping out of that car – dizzy, confused, convinced that I had fun but equally convinced that I shouldn’t have.

How this movie got made is beyond me. Wait. I take that back. I know exactly how this movie got made. A group of friends got together and said, “Hey, wanna make a movie together? It could be really fun…” And when you take into account the collective star power of this particular group of friends, you have the money and the influence, and you get to make your movie. Should this movie have been made? Hold on a second, I’m still dizzy. I’m going to have to give this some further thought.

Hmmm… What was the question again? Oh. Right. Should this movie have been made? I’m going with no. I mean, yes. Well, can I settle for a middle of the road maybe? As a basic premise goes, this movie was actually pretty clever. Guy in Witness Protection Program is willing to give up the program to return to LA because that’s where the love of his life, whom he met in a small town after entering the program, needs to go for her dream job. The biggest problem with this movie? Plot holes you could drive a truck through. Or just a really fast car, but there would be enough space for you to do lots of donuts on your way through.

Okay, still feeling a little scattered. This movie is, well, in a word, bad. Really bad. And poorly acted. And yet, and yet… This movie is really cute at times, downright touching. And funny. Laugh out loud funny. And brilliantly acted. Sigh. I think it fair to say that the movie was not consistent. I don’t really know what I was supposed to get out of it. That Beau Bridges is the guy you want as your father? That Bradley Cooper looks really, really stupid sporting the fakest dreadlocks you’ve ever seen? That the Cadillac station wagon is as fast as a Corvette? Hmmm. Maybe the best way to go about this is to tell you the things I really liked. And perhaps at least mention the things I didn’t.

I really liked the chemistry between real-life couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. It’s time to confess: I have a serious girl crush on Kristen Bell. Of course I really relate her to the character that made her famous, Veronica Mars. That was one of the best characters ever written for tv. Smart, sassy, with razor sharp snark. The kind of character that even the most talented actress couldn’t play unless she had a little bit of that living inside of her. And let’s face it, I don’t happen to bat for the other team, but you can’t deny that Kristen Bell is luminous. She just glows with that special brand of All-American beauty. And the way she looks at Dax Shepard, well, it’s just so damn sweet and lovely. As for Dax, well, I’m used to him playing kind of a dog. The smarter than he acts, always being underestimated and living up (or rather down to) others’ expectations of him. And here’s that same character again. But you know what? It suits him. He’s clearly a bright guy. Even when he’s not playing the brightest of characters. He’s like an adorable, scruffy dog (the canine type, not the player type), and you just want to take him home and feed him, maybe toss the ball in the backyard for him, scratch him behind his ears. Together, Dax and Kristen are so stinkin’ adorable. And the absolute best part of this movie – something that didn’t quite fit, but was really beautiful – the affirmation that Dax’s character repeats to Kristen’s character. Truly touching. I’m not going to try to repeat it here, but it was sweet, lovely, and even if it was out of place in this movie, it is exactly the sort of thing that most people need to hear more often in their lives. Myself included.

Moving on to Mr. Bradley Cooper, another of my French-speaking boyfriend candidates. His character confused the heck out of me. I mean, I actually liked his character. The scene with the thug bodybuilder outside the grocery store was unexpectedly awesome. But his character’s appearance was ridiculous. And frankly, distracting. I didn’t get the point of it. He’s sporting the worst fake dreadlocks ever and these horrible yellow sunglasses. I just didn’t get it. It didn’t make him funnier to me. And I assume he was supposed to be a caricature of some stereotype, but I didn’t recognize it. Maybe if I was from Southern California I would have understood. But despite the distracting appearance, I mostly enjoyed his character when he was onscreen.

As for Tom Arnold, well, I have nothing nice to say here. He was oddly out of place. He was over-acting to the point of just being shrieky. He just shouted and gesticulated. His portrayal of what could have been a rather interesting character was about as subtle as a sledgehammer. And his ineptness went beyond endearingly laughable into downright stupidity. I didn’t get it, I didn’t get him, and believing in his character was just too much of a leap for me to take. He was too much slapstick in a movie that could have really had some heart and depth (despite the shallow plot).

I felt a little like I was playing 6 degrees of Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard with all the former co-stars who showed up in the movie, some of them in great cameo roles. I don’t even know how some of them are connected, but it was fun to see Joy Bryant, who plays Dax’s fiancee on the TV show Parenthood. And it took me a minute to realize who that boy in the suit was, but lo and behold, it is the grown-up and still very handsome, Dick Casablancas from Veronica Mars! Okay, not the actor’s real name, actually that’s Ryan Hansen, but it was rattling around in my brain, who is that boy? Who is that boy? Why do I recognize his face, his voice, but can’t place how I know him? Then it came to me – it’s Dick! He was a very entertaining, surfer boy on Veronica Mars. It was fun to see him all grown up and in a suit. Also phenomenal in her role as Kristen Bell’s boss is Kristin Chenoweth. So. Funny. Though honestly, I think she could read the phone book and make it funny. Is it the pitch of her voice? Her inflection? The dichotomy of her sugar-sweet appearance and her raunchy character? I don’t know, and I don’t care, I love me some Kristin Chenoweth. And making a cameo as a US Marshall, Jason Bateman. With his pitch perfect comedic timing, it’s a shame he didn’t play a larger role.

Do I think these friends had fun making this movie? Um, yeah. Loads of it. Did I have fun watching it? Um, from time to time. There were some cringe-worthy moments of bad acting and terrible plot execution. But there were also moments of great tenderness between Shepard and Bell, moments of laughter, a few twists and turns, and some fun driving scenes. Overall the movie seemed slipshod, too uneven, too inconsistent. And yet, and yet… I liked it for what it was – a group of really famous friends having a ridiculous amount of fun in front of and behind the camera. Do I recommend you go out and see it? No. But am I sorry that I saw it? No.


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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim