Sometimes films just need to be fun, and in the pure entertainment stakes Dax Shepard‘s Hit & Run does a pretty good job at delivering. Cleverly combining the genres of romcom and action-in the form of the car chase movie- the actor/co-director (with David Palmer) provides something for everyone. Shepard stars as Charlie Bronson, a man living in witness protection in small-town America. Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) co-stars as Charlie’s girlfriend Annie, who is given an opportunity for her dream job. The only problem is it’s in LA, which also happens to be where the criminals Charlie is hiding from are located.
Action and hilarity ensues when Charlie decides to risk it all and drive Annie to the job interview. Whilst being pursued by Annie’s jealous ex (Smallville‘s Michael Rosenbaum), unstable criminals (lead by Bradley Cooper, The Hangover) and an inept Federal Agent (Tom Arnold, True Lies) Charlie and Annie tackle relationship problems, including Charlie’s less than savoury past. Exciting high-speed chases, interesting wordplay and some genuinely sweet couple-y moments (from real-life couple Shepard and Bell) are highlights in a script that seems to be somewhat of a homage to Shepard’s favourite childhood film Smokey and the Bandit (1977).
Along with the goofy and cute, there is also a fair amount of violence and risque humour, hence the MA rating. Some of the film’s more boundary pushing jokes start out funny mainly due to the shock of the topics being discussed, however they sometimes out stay their welcome with the point being labour a bit too hard. But this is minor criticism in a film that on the whole proves to be hugely likeable.
Shepard wrote the screenplay with the roles designed with his actor friends in mind, a fact that is incredibly flattering to Bell. The chemistry between the two leads is pretty gorgeous to watch, especially witnessing the high-esteem Shepard holds the very talented Bell in. Less flattering perhaps are the roles written for Arnold, Cooper and Rosenbaum. Cooper is an actor who is always more enjoyable when playing the arsehole characters, so Shepard has done him a favour by tailoring him the role of Alex, a complex baddie. Watching the film it is pretty obvious the cast are all friends, because you can see everyone is enjoying themselves. This camaraderie adds to the film’s viewing pleasure, especially in the car-chase sequences where Bell and Shepard seem to be having the time of their lives.
While Hit & Run isn’t going to be on any best of the year lists, it is a very good example of making a solid film in a tight time-frame (Shepard and Bell both had TV commitments they had to fit filming around), with a reasonably small budget. This model of filmmaking could prove very successful for Shepard, with Hit & Run suggesting this is a filmmaker to watch.
Hit & Run is released in Australia on September 6th
Directors: David Palmer and Dax Shepard
Cast: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Beau Brady, Michael Rosenbaum, Joy Bryant and Kristin Chenoweth