Hit & Run came out late last summer and while it made more than six times its $2 million budget, it’s still likely a movie that many have never heard of – and that’s unfortunate. While it’s not a rock solid 100 minutes of comedic film-making, it’s very close to that in pure fun, greatly in part to the standout work of Dax Shepard.
Shepard, who wrote and co-directed the film (alongside David Palmer), stars as Charles Bronson, a guy in Witness Protection (and there’s a reason he chose that name!) who decides that four years in protection, stuck in a small town far outside of Los Angeles is enough time to make his enemies within the city forget about him. The reason he decides this is because his girlfriend, Annie (Kristen Bell), was offered a prestigious job at a university in L.A. and he knows she has to take it, but she doesn’t want to leave him behind.
So he makes the choice for her, packs her stuff and puts it in the back of his suped-up classic car and promises to get her to L.A. in time for her interview. However, Annie’s ex-boyfriend, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), believes that he and Annie belong together, and that Charles is bad news, so he takes it upon himself to use his brother’s connections as a police officer to find out why it is that Charles is in Witness Protection. From there he “Facebook friends” the man who wants Charles dead, Alex (Bradley Cooper), and informs him of where Charles will be for the next 24 hours.
Things quickly pick up, as Charles is forced to face his past, how it affects his relationship, and whether or not he’ll be able to survive the day. Add on the fact that the fairly inept U.S. Marshal Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold) is also pursuing Charles since he was the one assigned to protect him, and you can see that things are bound to get crazy.
What’s so great about Hit & Run is that it just works on multiple cylinders (okay, I definitely don’t know enough about cars to start making references in the review to correlate them to the movie). Shepard really nails the leading man role here, and really carries the film throughout. This is a guy who hasn’t had much luck on the big screen, but if he continues to write movies like this to star in, then he’ll certainly start getting recognized for it more.
The story itself has a lot of things going on within it, but it never seems overwrought or overly silly. There’s a fine balance here to the crude humour, the regularly delivered jokes and the over-the-top silly stuff that mostly involves Arnold’s character, and for the most part, it all works.
On the acting front, Bell is as endearing as ever, and the two have fantastic chemistry (which isn’t surprising, seeing as they’re now engaged!), which really helps sell their relationship within the film. Rosenbaum is perfectly cast as the jealous counterpart to Shepard’s character, as the two look and behave like polar opposites in the film. Arnold does a wonderful job as the wacky U.S. Marshal Anderson out to protect his friend Charles (who actually seems to protect Anderson from himself more than Anderson protects him). And lastly, Cooper does a superb job as the animal-loving, grudge-holding nemesis of Charles – though that grudge is there for good reason, which is explained in one of the film’s funniest, well delivered scenes.
Hit & Run is an unexpected delight that will definitely entertain those looking for a fun movie to spend the night with. Shepard really delivers the goods, both on the writing front, as well as the acting front. His chemistry with Bell really helps make the story that much more engaging and romantic (though rarely on the overly sweet level) and the rest of the supporting cast make this a comedy a hit that you should run out and see.
The audio and video quality for the film is strong as well, with the Blu-ray transfer really delivering on both fronts. The dialogue and sound mixes both help propel the story forward nicely, while the picture is sharp, with strong colours and a nice richness to it all.
Deleted Scenes – There are quite a few deleted scenes, though I’d recommend avoiding them, as they were deleted for a reason. If you do check them out, you’ll notice they drag on fairly early, and you’ll likely quickly abandon your decision anyway.
Hit & Run is a movie that many won’t expect to be as fun as it turns out being. With Cooper being up for an Oscar, hopefully his name being smeared across the front in a quote that seems to promote his appearance more than the film itself will get people to give it a chance, and enjoy it for themselves.
An Alliance Films Release Exclusive Media Presents Hit & Run. Directed by: David Palmer and Dax Shepard. Written by: Dax Shepard. Starring: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Tom Arnold, Bradley Cooper, Jess Rowland. Running time: 100 minutes. Rating: 14A. Released: January 8, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.