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Hot Pursuit (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Hot Pursuit

Hot Pursuit


Starring Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, John Carroll Lynch, Robert Kazinsky, Joaquin Cosio, Richard T. Jones, Mike Birbiglia, Jim Gaffigan, Vincent Laresca, Matthew Del Negro, Michael Mosley, Benny Nieves, Michael Ray Escamilla, Abigail James Witherspoon, Harley Graham, Bryce Romero and Joe Camp III.

Screenplay by David Feeney and John Quaintance.

Directed by Anne Fletcher.

Distributed by Warner Brothers.  87 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

It’s a dead giveaway that you’ve just sat through a pretty lame comedy when the filmmakers decide to supplement the laughs with a series of cast bloopers over the end credits.  It’s not that these outtakes are not funny though usually they aren’t it’s just that they telegraph a desperation to wring out a bit more comedy from the film, humor that apparently was not in the actual script.

Think I’m being harsh?  I’ll tell you what: Name me a single film that ended in this style that was actually genuinely funny on it’s own terms.  Think about it a bit, I’ll wait.  You got one?  I didn’t think so.

Though this little gimmick was hugely popular about a decade or so ago, it has slowly but surely fallen into deserved disfavor.  I can’t even think of the last time I saw it done before Hot Pursuit dragged out the old technique, probably at least a year or so.

Not that I needed to be told that I’d just seen a pretty bad comedy with Hot Pursuit, but that just cemented the fact in my mind.

The worst part is, the movie didn’t have to be so uninspired.  Hot Pursuit has two extremely likable lead performances by Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara which are stranded with a very lackluster script.  It’s not even really actively bad so much as being… blah.  Keep moving, nothing to see here.  At least nothing that you haven’t seen done better elsewhere.

Hot Pursuit is just as generic as its title.

We are introduced to Witherspoon’s character of Officer Cooper in an opening sequence in which she literally grows up in the back seat of her hero cop father’s police car.  From toddler to teen, Cooper (if she was ever given a first name in the film, I honestly do not remember it) rides along with her dad: sharing stakeouts, sitting next to perps, dodging firefights, the works….

Dad may have been a legend in the police force, but family services should have taken his daughter away from him because he was obviously a criminally negligent parent, putting his growing daughter in harm’s way on a nearly constant basis.

Still, Cooper idolized her father.  So much so that she followed him into the police academy after dad was shot and killed.  The problem is her small stature, her anal-retentive adherence to the rules and her regular fuck-ups including accidentally setting the mayor’s son on fire with a tazer has her buried in the evidence room, where she is a joke among her brothers in blue.  They literally use her name as a verb to mean fucking something up.

Cooper’s opportunity to redeem herself comes when her chief (John Carroll Lynch), her dad’s former partner and best friend, puts her on a security detail.  A mob lawyer and his wife are set to testify against a ruthless drug lord.  A hot shot detective will be transporting them from their remote Texas mansion to the Dallas courtroom.  Because the wife Daniella (Vergara) is there as well, regulations call for a female officer to accompany them.

Of course, what should be a simple task turns out to be much more dangerous and complicated than expected.  On the compound, they are met by two groups of assassins, who take out the lawyer and the other cop.  Cooper and Daniella must go on the lam, trying to get to court in Dallas while dodging murderous drug dealers and crooked cops.

It’s the old odd couple kind of pairing, where two very different characters butt heads but slowly, through necessity, have to learn to trust, respect, and even kind of like each other.

Like I said, nothing you haven’t seen before, and seen done better.

Actually the crime story seems particularly undercooked, a very basic plot device to force the two women to get to know each other.  And if you don’t know who the dirty cops are from the start, you just aren’t trying.

Hot Pursuit is almost almost redeemed by the game way that the stars throw themselves into their parts.  Vergara is particularly amusing as the hot-headed Latin glamazon.  It’s nothing that Vergara hasn’t done regularly before, but she is good at it.  Witherspoon’s character is, by necessity, much more dialed back, but she does have some fun with making her tightly-wound policewoman finally loosen up.

And, for the record, there is nothing in the blooper reel that is worth sitting through the end credits for.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2015 All rights reserved. Posted: May 23, 2015.

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