It's a mad, mad world, and nothing gets crazier than Hit and Run. If ever you thought that it is impossible to turn your ordinary world and humdrum existence inside out and upside down, Hit and Run is proof that anything can happen when cause and effect collide head on.
What seems like an ordinary road movie soon becomes an exceptional adventure, filled with zany and off-the-wall characters, daredevil chase sequences and comedic confrontations. A young couple's idealistic romance is propelled into a hellish nightmare with hilarious consequences.
A former bank robber, Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard), living in a small California town with his girlfriend, Annie (Kristen Bell), decides to leave witness protection to help her reach her dream job in LA. But Annie's nosey ex (Michael Rosenbaum) sends Charlie's former accomplices (led by Bradley Cooper) and bumbling protective US Marshal (Tom Arnold) in hot pursuit. Their trip quickly turns from a leisurely drive into raucous, high-speed comedic mayhem.
An unexpected surprise
The film shows that if you really go out of your way to make your dreams come true, or even settle for good old-fashioned revenge, the end result is an unexpected surprise that offers first-rate entertainment. If there's one reason to see Hit and Run, it's for the sparkling performances by the ensemble; without the superb performances, the quirky characters would be soulless and their glorious on-screen life boring.
Dax Shepard, who also wrote the screenplay and co-directed the film with David Palmer, is fantastic as the idealistic young dreamer and hopeless romantic whose shady past casts a shadow over his romance, with great support from Shepard's real-life fiancé Kristen Bell playing his girlfriend and headstrong realist who dares to take the plunge. In real life, Shepard is passionate about cars, and the film brilliantly turns his passion into entertaining escapism.
Chemistry and connection
For a film like Hit and Run to work, there needs to be a chemistry and connection between the romantic couple and with Hit and Run, the onscreen teaming on Shepard and Bell is a match made in heaven (quite reminiscent of the bond between Goldie Hawn and William Atherton in Spielberg's sensational Sugarland Express, which, coincidentally, tells of a couple on the run).
Tom Arnold is hilarious as the idiotic sheriff who tries his best to keep law and order, but whose reckless nature and ill-fated relationship with guns cause havoc, with equally charming performances by Michael Rosenbaum as the nosey and randy ex whose slimy motives amplify his superficial perfection, and Bradley Cooper is one of the most ruthless (but fun) villains you will ever meet.
Hit and Run offers captivating entertainment that is amusing and charming, and is one of those great surprises that you can really escape into and be certain that you won't regret a moment.
Behind the scenes
Dax Shepard loves two things: his cars and Kristen Bell. Okay, three things - his other car, too. So when it came time to make his next movie, the Parenthood star decided, why not make one about all three?
Having grown up in Detroit, Shepard was constantly surrounded by automobiles. "My father sold cars, my mother worked for General Motors and my stepdad was in the Corvette group as a chassis engineer," he said. "So, as a kid, I was around a lot of really, really amazing cars. It's my number one passion."
By high school, he had got into drag racing, as well as worked at GM himself, where he got in plenty of track time, something quite unique for a 17-year-old. Shepard also made a number of appearances on covers of Motor Trend and Car & Driver. "There were all these cut-outs of me getting sideways'd in Camaros and stuff. You couldn't see it was me, but I had been part of the photo shoot."
One other thing that had made a lasting impression on him was a movie Shepard had seen at the bright young age of five - Hal Needham's Smokey and The Bandit. "At first, I just liked it because of the car stuff," the actor recalled. "But then, as I kept watching it, I started to really, really appreciate the comic genius of Jackie Gleason. My brother and I would ride our Big Wheels and would fight over which of us would get to be Sheriff Buford T Justice - we'd memorised all his lines. It was a huge, huge part of my childhood," as were other auto-centric movies like Needham's The Cannonball Run and, of course, Steve McQueen's Bullitt.
Eventually, Shepard realised that he wanted to make his own Smokey - "Just a little more comedy and a little more 'R,'" he said.
Daniel Dercksen has been a film and theatre journalist in South Africa the past 30 years and as a trainer and educator has presented regular workshops in scriptwriting and creative writing during the past 17 years.
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