Just like everyone else, I thought Tom Arnold was a no-talent comedian who married a rich, funny comedian and got famous for that. Over the years, I’ve grown to like him. He became funny and interesting on talk shows (even if he’s still a sweaty, neurotic mess). He’s also involved in a lot of charity work.
Dax Shepard showed he had talent as an actor on the MTV show Punk’d. And even in cheesy comedies (Employee of the Month) he was decent. He stole Baby Mama from comedic greats Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
The problem with this character he wrote for himself (he also directs), is that the guy isn’t the usual dummy with a heart of gold. He looks greasy and gross. You’re watching him act affectionate with Kirsten Bell (his real life fiancé), and wondering how she can stomach him.
Later in the movie, we see he’s a real jerk. For example, he has a ’67 Lincoln Continental (his car in real life), and character actor David Koechner shows appreciation for the car, only to get snide comments from Shepard.
Here’s the story in this mess of a movie. Shepard is in the witness protection program, where he’s given himself the name Charlie Bronson. In one of the two times I laughed in the entire movie, he explains that he didn’t take the name after the actor – but the violent prisoner in England who took the name after the actor.
Tom Arnold is the marshal that is assigned to watch Shepard (we won’t even get into all the plot holes and faulty logic, just as you wouldn’t with a movie like Smokey and the Bandit). There’s nothing funny or interesting about watching Arnold show up and accidentally drive through a neighbors fence, or having his gun accidentally shoot up his car.
I’m not sure if these types of pictures worked better when Burt Reynolds did them in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, because I was 10-years-old when I was enjoying them at the theatres…or because you’re watching really talented actors do goofy things (Jackie Gleason as the cop; Reynolds, who actually had some acting chops, and Sally Field – an Oscar winner). This movie gives us a cast that includes Bradley Cooper in a goofy dreadlock wig, and BeauBridges and Jason Bateman in small roles.
Shepard makes the mistake of bringing some dark elements into this movie. It’s like bad Tarantino.
When his girlfriend gets a job at a school in Los Angeles, Shepard decides he’ll bail on the witness protection program and go with her. That means he’s allowed to take his car out and turn this into a car chase movie. The bad guys will be on his tail, as well as the hapless good guy (Tom Arnold).
When we watched those movies like Cannonball Run and Gumball Rally, we at least got to see cool cars and car chases. Many of these chases were filmed in industrial areas. I’m guessing they didn’t have the budget for stuntmen and lots of other vehicles around (Shepard has said he’s proud of the fact that he did all his own driving in it).
Even normal conversations aren’t all that interesting. One that could’ve been, involves the couple talking about how you can’t insult somebody by telling them you were only joking, because there’s always a ring of truth to it.
I actually left when there was still 25 minutes left in this movie. I didn’t feel like wasting another second of my life watching something this bad. I should’ve just stayed home and watched Arnold being funny in the Roseanne roast.
I’ll be generous and give it ½ star out of 5. That’s for playing Jimi Hendrix’ Voodoo Chile during a car chase.