John Carroll Lynch
Matthew Del Negro
What to Expect
Doing my bit of pre-watching research on any movie has become staple to my process of writing reviews of late. The very homework I do on the makers, the performers or the franchises the movies I review are a part of almost defines what I am to get from a film. Sure, the inclusion of Reese Witherspoon (Wild) and Sofia Vergara (television’s Modern Family; Chef) does count for a few good laughs and some tongue-in-cheek entertainment, due to the immense comic timing they’re blessed with.
When I found Anne Fletcher behind the director’s chair for Hot Pursuit, I couldn’t have been more skeptical about it than I already was.
Fletcher may be an excellent choreographer – as shown through her skills in Boogie Nights – but her skills as a director has given away many a flat, uninspired product to the cinemas. Sure, she’s had mass-appeal with Step Up and The Proposal, but films like Guilt Trip and 27 Dresses are prime examples of simply how much she lacks in bringing stories to life. Not that the writers of this one bring up any hopes (looking at you, Quaintance).
Giving it a chance was probably the only sane choice I had.
What’s it About?
The responsibility of the protection of widow (Vergara) of a drug dealer is taken over by a bumbling cop (Witherspoon) from many a foe of the now dead husband.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
“This reminds me of The Heat. It has that vibe, don’t you think?”, a pre-film conversation with good friend and film blogger Zaw led to this rather true observation. This technically meant that this film should have delivered what it (but bleakly) promised us on: on-screen chemistry between the leads.
Of course, that does not happen.
Fifteen minutes through the film, and the audiences are already quite peeved to even witness Reese Witherspoon’s presence on screen. One may argue that Witherspoon’s character was supposed to get on your nerves, but then again, this is a comedy. For all you know, one’s supposed to be laughing at Witherspoon’s “quirks”, if I may.
It’s quite evident that doesn’t happen too.
The film backs its minute-long displays of all the studios and production cells backing the film with your stereotypical happy indie-rock track that practically lets us know what’s to happen through the film’s runtime, and which audience type it suits toward more. Add to that some extremely disgusting sexist and racist stereotypes and you’ve got yourself a very, very generic – not to forget a wee amount offensive – film that’s trying to appeal to a wider audience with the help of nothing but deja vu inducing tropes. Witherspoon’s officer is extremely unsure of her accent through the film’s runtime; she’s herself some, and a hammy redneck some others, which practically ruins what little this character could have had for the audience.
The cinematography, production design, edit decisions and music remind one heavily of last year’s somewhat unrelated Tammy (which is, oddly enough, from the very backers of this film). I’ve got to say, however, that I’d rather pick Tammy again. And I’m not kidding.
To Perform or Not to Perform
Reese Witherspoon is terrible in this film. From one accent to the other – not to forget all that hamming through the film’s runtime – she ruins what little the audience would have to like her. Sofia Vergara plays Modern Family‘s Gloria, with a gun in her hand. John Carroll Lynch is nice for a prop. Which is practically never nice. There’s also your humorous-black-guy, your standardized-male-love-interest, and your-corrupt-cops, and none of them put even an inkling of effort into the film.
But I guess the biggest culprits here are Anne Fletcher and the writers, who don’t even try to put a different spin on either genres it tries to throw on the wall in desperation of looking for what works. Let’s just say that for the distributors, this film is this year’s Tammy.
Only Tammy is relatively better. And that’s never a good thing.
Watch the trailer
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