Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dax Shepard/David Palmer's quirky HIT & RUN has plenty of laughs, charm and action

Has it really been 13 years since Doug Liman made his best film, GO? Yep, and some of us have been waiting ever since for a quirky, funny ensemble comedy as good as that one to come along and sweep us off our feet. HIT & RUN, the new quirky, funny ensemble comedy co-directed by David Palmer (shown below) and Dax Shepard is not Go-level (it's not nearly as sophisticated nor as interestingly "linked") but it's as unusual, charming and fun as anything else we've seen in quite some time.

The movie begins benignly and sweetly, with Shepard (below, left) and his leading lady Kristen Bell (below, right) in bed, he assuring her, via some quite intense and lovely words, that all will be well. Everything certainly looks well for this hunky/pretty blond twosome, but then little by little it grows less and less so until life, limb and true love are all threatened with extinction.  And the laughs never stop coming. The movie has a very quirkly premise involving witness protection, a past crime, false identity and payback time, but since this is a rom-com, we're happy to welcome something a little different.

The eager, smart cast that has been assembled throws itself into things with lovely, wild abandon.

The players include Kristin Chenoweth (above, right, as Bell's helpful boss), Michael Rosenbaum (below, left, as Bell's nuttily jealous ex-boyfriend),

and especially Tom Arnold (below, top, as a witness protection officer who's very bad with guns) and Jess Rowland (below, bottom, as a local cop learning to use a brand new toy).

In the villain department are Bradley Cooper (dredlocked below, center) and Joy Bryant (below, left), and while both are fine, it's the good guys, dumb as they often come, who concern and amuse us most.

In a movie like this one, tone is very close to all-important; fortunately the co-directors, together with their cast, manage to strike just the right one: goofy and sweet so that, no matter how bizarre the happenings ahead, we stick with these crazy, lovable characters. This is not as easy as Hit & Run makes it seem, so congratulations are in order all around.

At 100 minutes, the movie's a tad too long; ten of those could have been lost with little lacking. But even attenuated, the film has built up enough laughs (more important, enough good will) to carry us though to the finale. After his good acting work in a number of recent films (especially The Freebie) and now this co-directing credit, Mr. Shepard is looking very good and ever more marketable.

Hit & Run, from Open Road, opens tomorrow, Wednesday, August 22, in New York in several theaters -- and elsewhere, I'm assuming. You can click here, then click on the BUY TICKETS link to discover where it's playing in your area.

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