Hit & Run (2012), directed by Dax Shepard and David Palmer
You know what, I might be in the minority here, but movies like Hit & Run have to be my favourite popcorn, escapist cinema fare going. It’s light but exciting, it’s funny and smart, there’s plenty of action but none of it is gratuitous. Nobody dies, which is so refreshing, but there’s enough swearing and sex jokes to make the film decidedly adult.
It’s actually probably one of the best movies I’ve seen in theatres this summer.
Hit & Run is Dax Shepard’s baby. He wrote it, co-directed it, edited it and, of course, stars in it. I only really know Shepard from The Freebie, but I liked him a lot in that. I hear he used to be on Punk’d but I never watched that so I don’t have any preset opinions of him. From what I have seen I think he is really quite talented, both as an actor and also, seemingly, as a writer.
I say that because this is a shockingly well written movie. It actually does what I wish so many Hollywood films would do, in that it celebrates what makes a Hollywood action movie good, while throwing away and explicitly making fun of all the rubbish that normally comes along with it.
It’s a smart movie. Not like, Fellini smart, but smart in a way that it’s not insulting to audiences and actually gives us some credit for being people that can enjoy a car chase or two but also might not be comfortable with having that surrounded by sexism, homophobia and predictability. It gives us some credit for wanting something more.
It’s the kind of movie that can have a reference to Charles Bronson, but then explain that it’s actually a reference to the British prisoner who named himself after the American action star. I liked that.
Kristen Bell’s character, Annie, is someone we can like and respect, not just leer at or find annoying. She’s smart. She has a degree in nonviolent conflict resolution, which comes in handy at times in the movie. She is funny and charming and makes decisions that make sense.
This is the kind of movie where the main character can use the homophobic slur f-word and you’re like “well, there it is. Awkward,” and then the movie ADDRESSES THAT and actually makes a running joke about how he used that word and how inappropriate and juvenile it is (even if the line he used it in is a great one…he’s right, nitrous is bs.)
I guess I’m a sucker for smart dialogue in a movie like this. It’s certainly nowhere near as dense or reference-laden as a Tarantino movie but the characters still converse in a way that’s a lot more intelligent and literate than us average folk. But I love it. It’s a pleasure to listen to. I like a film that pays as much attention to that as it does to the action.
And then you combine that with a car chase movie and I’m really sold. Carsploitation films are my absolute favourite bubblegum movies. I’ve done the list before on the blog, but Hit & Run harkens back to the great classics Vanishing Point, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Gone in 60 Seconds, even Smokey and the Bandit. And that works for me. Few things get the old ticker going like the sound of a big-block ripping rubber up the street with someone hot in pursuit. Man, oh man.
I wish we got more films like this. And I don’t think I’m alone. Everyone leaving the preview screening that I went to last night seemed notably happy and entertained as they left. There was a buzz in the room. People had a good time. That’s more than can be said for most of the movies this summer, even for something like The Dark Knight Rises, which, though impressive at times, wasn’t exactly a lot of fun.
Hit & Run is fun. I like fun.
Hit & Run is in theatres on Friday.