Tom Arnold Steals the Show??? – A Hit & Run Review
TITLE: Hit & Run
STARRING: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Tom Arnold, Bradley Cooper, Kristen Chenoweth
DIRECTORS: Dax Shepard, David Palmer
STUDIOS: Open Road Films, Primate Pictures, Kim and Jim Productions
RUN TIME: 1oo min
RELEASED: August 22, 2012
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Hit & Run feels like a movie that a bunch of buddies (and one of their fiancees) got together to make, which incorporates their kind of jokes, a plot similar to a bunch of other movies they liked, and of course, some cool cars. Often times that kind of film tends to fall flat with audiences who are out of the loop. Thankfully, Hit & Run bucks that trend in almost every way. It creates a surprising blur between the chase movie and the romantic comedy.
While in the witness protection program, Charlie Bronson has met the woman of his dreams, Annie. But when Annie gets an interview for her dream job in Los Angeles, a city Charlie is NOT supposed to be in, the couple faces the possibility that they might be split up. Nevertheless, Charlie sucks it up and opts to take her to LA in his pimped out muscle car. But when Annie’s ex-boyfriend Gil sticks his nose into things, and contacts a face from Charlie’s past, things start to get really fast, and really dangerous.
This film has two main elements that set it apart from other chase movies. The first is the romance between Charlie and Annie, which is one of the best on-screen love stories I’ve seen in awhile. Part of this is obviously due to the real-life chemistry between Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, who are engaged. But it goes beyond that. Though their dialogue is slightly contrived at times, most of their interactions feel very real and relatable. I was particularly impressed with the opening scene, in which we see Charlie trying to keep Annie relaxed about her job. Through his words we not only see how much these two characters love each other, but how much chemistry they have together. It’s a refreshing departure from a lot of the contrived, hollow BS we’re fed in a lot of romantic comedies. It’s a very honest approach to romance, not only in the happy moments, but in the sad and angry ones too.
The second element, believe it or not, is Tom Arnold. He’s by far the funniest performer in the film as the twitchy and bumbling, yet well intentioned US marshall assigned to protect Charlie. The funniest moments in the film all come from him. He’s not a very deep character at all, but he doesn’t necessarily need to be. I recently read a review that said something to the effect of: “Bradley Cooper underacts perfectly as Alex, and Tom Arnold overacts perfectly.” That really sums it up. Michael Rosenbaum is also solid as Annie’s possessive stalker/ex-boyfriend.
The movie’s dialogue is a bit contrived at times. So often, movies or TV shows will try and make character exchanges “witty” or “quirky,” and it simply comes off unrealistic and annoying (see Gilmore Girls). There’s a little bit of this in Hit & Run, but most of it’s pretty harmless. The only part of the film it flat out ruins is the first time we see Dax Shepard’s character meet Bradley Cooper’s character. It transitions from a really tense reunion between the two after years apart, to a series of subpar jokes about prison sex.
All in all, Hit & Run manages to be the unlikely missing link between the romantic comedy and the chase movie, with some Apatow comedy tendencies to boot. Does juggling all those attributes make it a little unfocused? Maybe. But the very palpable connection between our main characters, the surprisingly hilarious Tom Arnold, and some cool action sequences make Hit & Run worthwhile.
All images from rottentomatoes.com.