Hit & Run

Hot rods to heck.

For a movie that imitates Quentin Tarantino’s imitations of 1970s drive-in car-chase actioners, Dax Shepard and David Palmer’s Hit & Run is a frisky, end-of-summer way to kill a couple of hours.

Writer/co-director Shepard (star of The Freebie), who resembles Bruce Dern at his most benign, plays Charlie, a lanky, affable ex-offender who’s trying his best to live the straight life with his newish girlfriend Annie (Kristen Bell), a university sociology teacher. When Annie lands a job interview at UCLA, Charlie offers to drive her down in his big black hot rod Lincoln, the one with 700 horses. Their road trip agitates Annie’s ex, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), and more menacingly, Alex (Bradley Cooper), Charlie’s former partner in crime, who wants the swag he says Charlie is withholding. Also joining the chase is a gay sheriff named Terry (Jess Rowland) and Randy (Tom Arnold), the accident-prone US Marshal assigned to Charlie’s witness protection case. Gil drives a Firebird, Alex a souped-up Cadillac wagon, the rollers a couple of beaters.

Not nearly enough chase action, mostly cuts and zooms. The story is more about social sensitivity than wrecking cars, anyway. Charlie has a lot to learn and Annie is determined to teach him. Shepard and Bell make the medicine go down entertainingly, but 1974 car-chase cult-classic Dirty Mary Crazy Larry is never in any real danger.

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