Stick to what you know best. That’s the sobering message for actor Dax Shepard, who not only writes but also co-directs this scattershot chase caper about a man confronting the demons of his past.
'Hit And Run' has moments of tender romance and suitably turbo-charged action sequences but characters are thinly sketched and running jokes collapse wheezing well before the end credits.
It certainly doesn’t help that supporting characters are garish caricatures, from Kristin Chenoweth’s sassy school principal, who casually admits to rape and abortion in her past, to Bradley Cooper’s dreadlocked heavy, who seems to be modelled on Gary Oldman’s deranged pimp in 'True Romance'.
Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) is a nice guy living in the small California town of Milton, whose formative years are a mystery to his perky live-in girlfriend, Annie (Kristen Bell).
She is completely unaware that his real name is Yul Perkins and he is a one-time getaway driver from Los Angeles who agreed to testify against his bank-robbing chums in exchange for a new name in the federal witness protection program.
US marshal Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold) monitors Charlie’s movements, ensuring he does nothing to alert gang leader Alex Dimitri (Cooper) and sidekicks Neve (Joy Bryant) and Allen (Ryan Hansen) to his whereabouts.
When Annie lands an interview for a teaching position in Los Angeles, Charlie throws caution to the wind and agrees to drive his sweetheart back to his old stomping ground in the vintage Continental he keeps hidden in the garage.
“I’ve been gone for four years and LA’s a big city. We’ll be fine,” Charlie assures Randy.
Annie’s jealous ex-boyfriend, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), panics at the thought of her moving to another state and warns that Charlie is too good to be true.
“He’s probably going to kill you and roleplay with your corpse!” Gil shrieks.
He exposes Charlie’s true identity and gives chase, intending to woo back Annie with the shocking truth.
Gil also contacts Alex via Facebook and alerts the ringleader to Charlie’s imminent return, foolishly endangering the woman he adores.
'Hit & Run' has its heart in the right place but Shepard’s script is all over the place.
Dialogue about the political correctness of a homophobic slur is outdated and a subplot involving a gay police officer (Jess Rowland), who cruises for partners using a fictitious smart phone app called Pouncer, outstays its welcome.
Shepard and Bell gel nicely but any sparks of on-screen chemistry tend to be extinguished by the madness unfolding around them.
The belated introduction of Beau Bridges as Charlie’s father, who hasn’t seen his boy in years, is a moment of calm before yet another storm of revving engines and burning rubber.
'Hit And Miss' would be a more fitting title for Shepard and David Palmer’s film, erring towards the latter.
Star Rating: 2½