Revving up its raunchy, R-rated engine, this car chase caper comedy is the story of Charlie Bronson, a.k.a. Yul Perrkins (comedian Dax Shepard), a former getaway driver who impulsively breaks out of the government’s Witness Protection Program to ferry his sociology professor fiancée, Annie Bean (Kristen Bell), from the tiny northern California town of Milton Valley to Los Angeles so she can interview for a ‘dream job’ as head of an anger-management program. They’re pursued by bumbling, accident-prone United States Marshal Randy Anson (Tom Arnold) and trying to elude vengeance-seeking Alex Dmitri (Bradley Cooper –in bleached-out dreadlocks!), the ex-con bank robber whom Yul had double-crossed by turning state’s evidence and testifying against him and two gang members.
A confessed car fanatic-and-collector, writer/director Dax Shepard says he and his co-director David Palmer (previous collaborators on the mock documentary “Brother’s Justice”) were inspired by Burt Reynolds’ “Smokey and the Bandit” (1997), placing Charlie and Annie in a souped-up, black 1967 Lincoln Continental, looking just like the sleek sedan in “The Matrix.” Even though Charlie’s supposed to be a former stock-car driver, he’s never much of a daredevil drag-racer behind the wheel, so don’t expect extravagant stunt work.
Real-life partners, Shepard (TV’s “Parenthood”) and Kristen Bell (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) spin an affectionate romantic chemistry, and there’s amiably raucous, profanity-laden repartee among the eccentric, easy-going ensemble that includes Kristin Chenoweth as Bell’s well-meaning, pill-popping boss, Beau Bridges as Charlie’s obnoxious dad, Joy Bryant (Shepard’s “Parenthood” co-star) as Alex’s girl-friend and Charlie’s ex, and Michael Rosenbaum as Annie’s pathologically jealous ex-boyfriend with Jess Rowland as his gay cop brother.
For those who enjoy cinematic gaffes, watch carefully during the opening scene in which Randy is driving to Charlie Bronson’s house. He’s talking on an iPhone that he’s holding upside-down, which is not too difficult to spot since the lock button and headphone jack are visibly near his mouth.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to1 0, “Hit & Run” is a silly, sputtering 6, screeching some lowbrow, low-budget laughs before it runs out of gas.