review – hot pursuit

Hot_Pursuit_2015_poster

At one point, Agent Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) is being searched at a party. As she’s being “patted down,” she echoes what the searcher is not finding. “No,” she repeats, “nothing there.” She could be describing this movie. Part “chase film,” part buddy comedy,” with shades of the “odd couple,” there’s “nothing there” you haven’t seen before. And what is there is stretched thin, laced with one-note jokes that seem to lack a punch line. Sofia Vergara is a beautiful and accomplished woman, but you can’t often tell that here. She’s overly made-up, sometimes poorly lit, mostly required to mock her Colombian heritage. Witherspoon has proven she can do fresh comedy and solid drama but she needs a good script to work with. Here, she falls into and out of a heavy Southern accent, rigidly repeating rules and dismal dialog, struggling to keep this from becoming a new career low.

The two women are on screen, together, for virtually the entire movie, but they never find a sense of pace or the chemistry they need to make their relationship – or this movie — work. In the beginning, they’re on the run from two sets of bad guys who want them killed. By the end, they may be trying to escape the audience who want their money back. What we have here are feminine hygiene jokes and lesbian jokes and jokes about sparkly shoes and women’s underpants. What we don’t have are funny jokes or jokes we haven’t heard before. We have car chases and foot chases; we have double crosses, and hidden agendas and people who are not who they pretend to me. What we don’t have are characters of any dimension or ideas with any depth. Even at just eighty-seven minutes, the movie feels too long for the story it tells. You’d think these two accomplished actresses – with their striking differences in height, coloring, language and curves – could be very funny together. And perhaps they can be – but not here.

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