Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara. A screwball buddy comedy about a rookie cop tasked with escorting the wife of a crime boss while being pursued by baddies. I wasn’t optimistic, but after hearing Grantland’s Wesley Morris sell it on a podcast as a female version of the 1988 classic Midnight Run, I thought perhaps the film could surprise me.
Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. Wrong!
Hot Pursuit turned out to be everything that I feared it would be, but worse. It’s well-intentioned as a “female-driven” comedy that’s aiming to be a lighter, PG-13 version of The Heat (with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy), but in all honesty it’s completely stupid and lacking in all that makes a good comedy, from wit to coherence to likable protagonists. Worst of all, it’s criminally unfunny; I didn’t even crack a chuckle on the laugh meter throughout the entire 87-minute film. Do you know how hard that is? I guess the combination of predictable jokes that continuously go down the most obvious route and over-the-the slapstick humour just didn’t do it for me. My wife laughed a few times, but only at how moronic the gags were.
Sadly, the film attempts to give us nothing new and appears content with a run-of-the-mill plot featuring all the usual cliches, comedy tropes and characters. There are basically two running gags about Witherspoon’s and Vergara’s characters that are repeated every few minutes, and both of them are based on their physical attributes. Some of the other jokes can also be regarded borderline sexist, racist and even homophobic. It’s the opposite of a progressive film.
I generally like both Witherspoon and Vergara and have seen them be funny in other roles. Here? Not so much; they are more irritating than charismatic, wasting an opportunity to showcase their respective strengths in this odd-couple coupling.
I’d forgotten after all these years that Witherspoon was once a fantastic comedic actress who carried Legally Blonde to unexpected heights. In Hot Pursuit you can tell she’s trying, but can’t compensate for the poor writing and plain stupidity to avoid becoming a goofy caricature. She’s far too pathetic to be endearing.
Vergara, on the other hand, is so grating in the film. It’s basically the same schtick she pulls in Modern Family, except without the good writing to play to her qualities. Instead, she’s just an annoying voice that won’t stop blabbering.
It may seem like I hated this movie but I don’t. There’s nothing in it that offended me or angered me. I’m just disappointed by how bland and unfunny it was. I don’t think any of the previous films directed by Anne Fletcher have received rave reviews, but this has to mark a new low for her. When a comedy ranks below 27 Dresses and The Proposal in my book you know it can’t be good.
1 stars out of 5