Hot Pursuit

At the Movies Blog

Hmmm…if there’s a scene with us changing outfits, that should get a laugh.

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Hot Pursuit is a hot mess. My favorite part of this movie was after it ended (well, there was that)…and talking with my friend James about how much it reminded me of a female version of Midnight Run (minus the humor). We spent the next 10 minutes talking about all the funny scenes in Midnight Run and had a great laugh reminiscing.

This movie is a lot like The Heat (Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy), which most audiences liked, so I’m guessing audiences will like this lame comedy, too.

One of the few jokes that worked in this was listening to newscasters always making Reese Witherspoon’s Officer Cooper character shorter, and Sofia Vergara’s character older. Yet even that joke was ruined by it being shown in the trailers.

Perhaps you shouldn’t expect much from director Anne Fletcher, since her credits include 27 Dresses and The Guilt Trip.

Vergara plays the wife of a drug lord’s accountant, who needs an escort to court so she can testify in the morning. A variety of gunmen are after them, which means they have to constantly change cars, change clothes, and have lots of cat fights.

Just like The Heat, the movie does do a handful of funny things. There was an enjoyable montage watching Officer Cooper grow up, studying her policeman father during ride-alongs (not sure how realistic that is, but so what).

Two great stand-up comedians – Jim Gaffigan and Mike Birbiglia – each have funny scenes with Witherspoon.

Office Cooper is a by-the-books cop in the similar vain as class president character in Election (an amazing comedy, if Anne Fletcher wants to learn how to do it right).

Cooper is relegated to evidence room duty after she thought a college student had a gun and tazed him (in a fun scene we get in a flashback). When a federal marshal (Richard T. Jones) rolls into the San Antonio town, she’s assigned to join him on a trip to Dallas to pick up the witnesses.

Vergara plays the wife, whose accent is just as annoying as in Modern Family; but it works on that show because it’s well written.

The writing in this is so lazy, we get slapstick gags; scenes like trying to escape out a bathroom window you can’t climb, or a Cadillac that swerves, causing you to drop the cell phone that you could’ve used to get help. And of course, we’re supposed to laugh at all the pairs of shoes she keeps lugging around.

Of the 50 jokes Vergara spews at the officer, only a few were funny. There was also a cute site gag where Cooper is undercover as a boy, and looks just like Justin Beiber.

Even jokes that work felt recycled. The pair try to escape from killers by saying, “She has to go to the bathroom. It’s some lady business of the tampon variety.”

Good line, but after Alicia Silverstone used a line to get out of class in Clueless, we don’t always need this gimmick used. Especially since when Vergara ruins it by adding, “Otherwise, you’ll have a crime scene in the back seat of this car.”

You wonder if guys that are going to shoot them in the head would even care about that. Although a movie like this you don’t pick apart, because nothing about it is remotely realistic.

At one point when Officer Cooper gets a love interest (in Thelma & Louise fashion), we think things might pick up. They don’t. When they part ways and he asks how she’ll get a hold of him, she responds, “I’ll run your plates.”

It’s a cute line that immediately made me think of another short, southern voiced female officer that did things by the book – Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona. The Coen brothers could teach Fletcher what makes small-town characters humorous. Yet perhaps I’m being hard on the director and not the two stars. After all, they’re both producers.

Aside from a few funny lines, this movie just lacked humor or heart. Even the closing credits with the bloopers weren’t that funny.

Miranda Lambert did a new song for the film, and a fight scene in a hotel with Black Betty playing should’ve rocked. Now, having the movie start with American Girl would’ve been nice…had they used the Tom Petty version; although even that would make me think of the first day of school in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This movie…you’d have to be high as Spicoli to enjoy.

It gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.

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