Hit and Run is not terribly deep and not exactly insightful. It is the kind of movie that arrives with low expectations, does not exactly light up the box office, and disappears from the public eye, destined to be little more than a footnote for all involved. That probably sounds harsh but I believe it deserves a better fate than that. This movie is actually pretty good and while it may not have much to say, it is a fun, in the moment kind of flick. I could think of worse ways to spend an evening.
This is the story of Charles Bronson, no, not that Charles Bronson, although that probably would have been fun. This is about Charlie (Dax Shepard), a nice guy living in a sleepy northern California town, safely in the witness protection program. Four years before we start the movie, he testified in a trial about a string of bank robberies for which he was the getaway driver. Now, in the present, he is attempting to put that part of his life behind him start new. In his attempt to bury the past, he moved to this small town and is living a quiet, laid back life with his girlfriend, Annie (real life girlfriend Kristen Bell), a small college teacher.
The plot gets kick-started when Annie’s boss (Kristen Chenoweth) forces her to accept an interview in Los Angeles for a teaching position in her unique specialty of non-violent conflict resolution, which Charlie offers to drive her to. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, taken by itself. The problem is that LA happens to be where Charlie’s old bank robbing buddies are and Annie knows nothing about his criminal past. Past and present collide when he decides to drive her to the interview.
Their first problem is they take off without telling Charlie’s Witness Protection agent, Randy (Tom Arnold). Their second problem is Annie’s ex-boyfriend, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), who still carries a torch for Annie and is mot appreciative of her taking off with a criminal. He sets things in fast forward when he uncovers Charlie’s real name and inadvertently alerts the bank robbing pals, led by Alexi (Bradley Cooper). This puts everybody on the trail of our happy couple as they desperately try to get to LA.
That’s just about it. The thin plot is not exactly original, so a lot of the movie’s success comes down to chemistry and execution. It also helps that it looks like everyone involved is having a blast. Shepard and Bell have good chemistry on the screen, and even though the characters are on the shallow side, they are still fun to watch. Tom Arnold also looks like he is having fun as a hapless agent with issues with his gun, not to mention being perpetually two steps behind. Bradley Cooper, bad hair and all, seems to be having some fun as the head bank robber.
The movie is a vanity project for Shepard. He wrote the screenplay, co-directed it with David Palmer, co-edited it, produced it, did some of the stunt driving, and even used a number of his own cars. This doesn’t necessarily make this a good movie, but it does show some dedication to the project.
If you are just looking for solid car chase action and a few laughs, this may be for you. It is not a movie to learn about the human condition or see the next evolution of filmmaking. This is a movie to enjoy and remember that it is all right to just be entertained and have a little fun.