'Hit & Run' misses the mark

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard in Hit & Run. (Handout)

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard in Hit & Run. (Handout)

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:27 PM ET

Dax Shepard wrote and co-directed Hit & Run, an obvious labour of love aimed right at his beloved co-star: a 1967 Lincoln Continental helped along by a 700 HP LS7.

Plot? Characterization? Chemistry with his real-life fiancee and cast-mate Kristen Bell?

Forget all that - this movie is about a muscle car. This is a special car the size of a boat with a $15,000 engine. It can't go forward without smoking wheels, only starts in slo-mo and runs with a thrumming engine that can be heard for miles around by car-loving males in rutting season. Or something like that.

Shepard is Charlie Bronson and Bell is Annie, and they star as a happy couple living somewhere in the middle of nowhere. They've been together about a year, and are still getting to know each other; then, she gets a terrific job opportunity in L.A. and he offers to drive her to her job interview.

There is a problem: Charlie is in the witness protection program and he's not supposed to go to Los Angeles. He's not supposed to go anywhere. He's supposed to lie low, report to the marshall (Tom Arnold) charged with protecting him and prepare to testify against some bad guys.

But he goes to L.A. anyway. He and Annie are pursued by her old boyfriend, who is convinced Charlie is a villain, by his old gang, which includes Bradley Cooper with dreadlocks and by the aforementioned Tom Arnold, who will not give up on his witness. Hilarity does not exactly ensue. It sort of runs off in all directions.

The chase scenes are oddly devoid of energy, and are usually interrupted by couples chit-chat between Charlie and Annie. She whines at him about honesty; he blathers at her about a zen approach to living in the moment. Although both actors play attractive characters here, their dialogue sounds like outtakes from couples' therapy.

Cameos from such actors as Jason Bateman, Kristin Chenoweth, Beau Bridges and David Koechner are fun to look at, but can't detract from the film's jumbled emotions -- it's a romance, it's a drama, it's a comedy, it's a road movie, it's an auto-body experience. Whatever it is, we didn't love it.


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