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Hit and Run

If you’ve been meaning to spend a night at the drive-in but haven’t found an appropriate movie playing (those dark special-effects spectaculars often seem mucky when viewed al fresco), here’s your chance. An independent film written and co-directed (with David Palmer) by comic actor Dax Shepard, Hit and Run is an updated version of one of those Burt Reynolds movies that seem to have been filmed largely to give Burt a chance to hang around with his friends and get paid for it.

Shepard stars as Charlie Bronson, a layabout living in a nowhere California town. His girlfriend Annie (Shepard’s real-life girlfriend Kristen Bell, doing a Sally Field) has a doctorate in conflict resolution that she can’t get any use out of because no university has a program in that field. When a once-in-a-lifetime opening arises in LA, Charlie decides to drive her there, even though he’s not supposed to leave town. Seems Charlie is in the witness protection program (hence the name), and LA is where he’s most likely to run into the people who would like to permanently prevent him from testifying. On the other hand, Charlie also has a souped-up ’67 Lincoln Continental that he is confident will be able to outrun any trouble along the way, which of course starts before they’re even out of town.

Hit and Run seems equally inspired by the Quentin Tarantino-scripted True Romance (the faux island theme music seems to be a tip-off), though lacking the excessive violence. Shepard and Bell make a very comfortable couple onscreen, and you could just as easily describe this as a relationship comedy sparked by a few chase scenes. It has an appealing slackness, with a few scenes that are clearly in the film not because they push the plot along but just because they’re amusing. Shepard’s drawly mumble may be why he’s been relegated to supporting roles, but it makes him an off-center hero, surrounded with a cast of friends with familiar faces, including Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Kristin Chenoweth, Beau Bridges, and David Koechner.

Watch the trailer for Hit and Run

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