A Hot Mess
Hot Pursuit is directed by Anne Fletcher and stars Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, and Robert Kazinsky.
The director filmography of Anne Fletcher contains the likes of Step Up, The Proposal, and The Guilt Trip, all of which fall somewhere on the narrow range of pretty bad to decent. But oh man oh man oh man oh man, when stacked next to the likes of Hot Pursuit, those said films that I just mentioned look like Monty Python or Marx Brothers material. There are more laughs to be had in the first 10 minutes of Step Up (which isn't even a comedy) than in the entire 87 minutes of Hot Pursuit. And if Hot Pursuit is to serve any sort of meaningful function, it's that it marks the bottoming out of a directorial career that never really took off in the first place.
It should be noted that this Hot Pursuit is not a remake of the 1987 film of the same name starring John Cusack and Jerry Stiller. I haven't seen the 1987 Hot Pursuit, but I'd bet all the money in the world that I would laugh more times during that version than this 2015 version. Why? Because I can confidently acknowledge that I laughed exactly zero times during the 2015 Hot Pursuit, and if I were forced to watch it again after having it wiped from my memory bank, I don't know how there could possibly be a different outcome. That is because Hot Pursuit is a steaming hot mess of an action comedy that trades in annoyance for laughs. A bad comedy can be a lot of things: mean-spirited, disgusting, awkward, or maybe some ugly hybrid of all three of those things. Hot Pursuit goes all in for being annoying, which isn't any more tolerable than being mean-spirited, disgusting, or awkward.
The annoyance begins with Reese Witherspoon who plays the obsessively by-the-books cop Cooper. She works at the San Antonio Police Department where her name has become synonymous with screw-ups. Cooper's most famous screw-up was when she set the mayor's son on fire after he yelled "Shotgun!" and she tased him while he was carrying an alcoholic drink. Cooper has been assigned to the evidence locker, as she has proven that she is unable to properly handle field work. Cooper's commanding officer, Captain Emmett (John Carroll Lynch), gives her an assignment to protect Felipe Riva (Vincent Laresca) and his wife Danielle (Sofia Vergara). Riva is to go to Dallas and testify against the drug cartel Vicente Cortez. But while at the Riva home, two different pairs of assassins break into the home and kill Felipe while Cooper is upstairs with Danielle. Cooper and Danielle manage to escape in Riva's car, and the two begin a journey to Dallas, where Danielle can testify against Cortez.
- Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara both have comedic bones in their bodies. Not a single one of them are on display here, unfortunately. No, really, that's the closest thing to a high point that this movie has: Witherspoon and Vergara have comedic potential. This movie doesn't offer either of them the chance to show it, sadly.
- My goodness, where do I even begin about just how freaking annoying this movie is? Well, I did say that the annoyance begins with Reese Witherspoon, so let's start with her. It doesn't take too long to see that her character, Cooper, is all about playing by the rule book, but so obsessively that it isn't even funny. Cooper frequently brings up whichever police code numbers are relevant to whatever situation she currently finds herself in, as well as mentioning to Sofia Vergara that she deals with stress by reciting the code numbers and what they mean. Reese Witherspoon also dons a thick Southern accent throughout the film, and it sounds like it'd be best suited for some kind of Western movie that starred Jeff Bridges. But the annoyance that Witherspoon wholly brings to the film doesn't come close to the annoyance that Sofia Vergara provides. For some odd reason, Vergara's Colombian accent has a certain pitch to it that makes it easily susceptible to sounding whiny. Go figure, because whining is basically all Vergara does during the film. She whines about a suitcase full of shoes that she has. She whines about her clothes. She whines about Witherspoon's by-the-books personality (that one she gets a pass on because it's about the only thing going for her and Witherspoon's odd couple characters). If you take away everything involving Reese Witherspoon mentioning the rules or Sofia Vergara whining, then Robert Kazinsky and John Carroll Lynch would be the lead roles.
- So the annoyance part of Hot Pursuit may seem like the worst thing, and it is. But something else about the movie that is so damn depressing is that it doesn't even seem to be trying. There is not a single scene in this movie that you can watch and see any form of comedic potential. Let me rephrase that. Not one single scene in this entire movie can you watch and say to yourself, "This could be funny if done right." Witherspoon and Vergara's characters get on the news, and there's a running gag in which the news broadcasters screw up their correct height and age number, respectively. The broadcasters mention a shorter height for Witherspoon each time and mention an age somewhere between 40 and 50 for Vergara. It's not funny the first time, and it sure as hell doesn't get any funnier the next three or four times. Hot Pursuit trying to be funny is like a person trying to enjoy getting their wisdom teeth pulled out. It's not going to happen.
- And if there weren't enough problems already, Hot Pursuit suffers from an uneven tone. The first half of the movie is Witherspoon and Vergara on the run, which is supposed to be the "comedic" part of the movie. But then the second half of the movie plays itself like a serious crime drama, and it's impossible to be invested in it in any way because of how we have grown such a disdain for Witherspoon and Vergara during the first half of the movie.
I must say I was baffled by Hot Pursuit. I knew it was going to be bad beforehand, and the annoyance part I was expecting based on other reviews I have read and video reviews I watched. But what really struck me was how the movie doesn't even seem to be making a dedicated effort in at least trying to be funny. The running gag it has throughout isn't funny, and there is not one single thing that I can point to and say, "Yes, that could've been funny." I don't know what this movie was supposed to be or what it was hoping to achieve in the end. How could anyone in the production crew look at this and say, "We have a worthy comedy on our hands here." Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara have proven to be funny in other things. There is just absolutely nothing here for the two to showcase their comedic talents. All that Hot Pursuit accomplishes at the end of the day is putting a dark stain on the careers of Witherspoon and Vergara, as well as marking what will most likely be the bottom of Anne Fletcher's shaky directorial career.
Recommend? Oh God no
(not an F only because Witherspoon and Vergara have comedic talent)
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: