Hit and Run
A non-generic movie with a generic title.
Genre: Action, Comedy Why We Watched: I first heard about this movie on Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert. It sounded like a ton of fun, plus I knew Bradley Cooper was in it. The two actors apparently have a close friendship, but Cooper's penchant for privacy means Shepard is a lot less forthcoming about him than many of his other actor pals. So, I was interested to see them act together--and also I'll watch my favorite Brad in Hollywood in anything. I've been a big fan since Alias, and also I feel a little kinship with him since we are both English Hoyas!
You Might Also Like: CHIPS, for sure. And Silver Linings Playbook.
Critics were lukewarm about Dax Shepard's 2012 chase comedy, but I unambiguously enjoyed it. The title is sort of forgettable, sure, but the movie isn't. I haven't seen anything else quite like it, and I like that. It has an Indie sensibility to it, and it made me feel like I was seeing the inside of Shepard's brain in a way that I didn't feel with CHIPS, which was flashier and more Hollywood. That movie worked within a particular framework—using the 70s tv show as a blueprint—but this one creates its own framework. The soundtrack and lingering closeups and landscape feel really specific, like they all carry Shepard's unique signature. Of course, a movie with flashy cars in it is kind of Shepard's signature, too. An amateur racer of motorcycles, cars, dune buggies, and all things fast, he loves bringing vehicles into his movies—and they all have plenty of character. In Hit and Run, a suped-up Lincoln Continental holds its own alongside Shepard, who plays Charlie Bronson, a former getaway driver for a team of bank robbers, and Kristin Bell, who plays Annie Bean, Charlie's girlfriend, a college professor with a doctorate in Non-Violent Conflict Resolution. Annie and Charlie live in small-town California, where keeping Charlie—who is in the witness protection program—anonymous is easy. Randy (Tom Arnold) is a lousy but well-meaning U.S. Marshal assigned to Charlie's case, and it seems like the couple's social life stops with him, but they don't seem to mind. Their life together, set among vineyards and rolling hills, seems idyllic, except that Annie is way underemployed teaching Intro to Sociology classes at local Milton College, the "jackoff booth of academia," as Annie's dean Debby (Kristin Chenoweth) puts it. When Annie gets the chance to interview for her dream job in LA, Charlies decides to risk it and go with her, driving them across the state in his prized Lincoln, a relic from his days as a criminal. He figures it's been four years since he testified against his friend Alex Dmitri (Bradley Cooper), and LA is a big city—surely his past is squarely in the rearview. Reader, it is... but his past has white-boy dreadlocks and is driving a speedy red station wagon. Shenanigans ensue. Will Annie make it to her big interview on time? Will her relationship with Charlie survive dangerous encounters with his shady past? You'll have to watch to find out! Maybe you could call this a vanity project since Shepard and wife Bell are the stars and they play incredibly likable characters, but it doesn't feel that way to me. It feels generous, like he's giving all his buds—and his viewers—a chance to relax. Like in CHIPS, Shepard employs his best friends to act in the film. BFFs Jess Rowland and Ryan Hansen make appearances, as does his costar from Parenthood Joy Bryant. Even frontman Jason Bateman has a cameo, and it's obvious that they're all doing this project for the fun of it, not for the money or prestige, and to me, that speaks highly of Shepard and his project. Plus, it's a ton of fun for the viewer. Enjoy racing into the holidays with this one, friends. Next week we'll come at you with a review of our favorites from 2019. Happy Streaming! Grace