Like most bad comedies, Hot Pursuit has a blooper reel attached to the end credits. Also like most bad comedies, the blooper reel contains more than the sum number of laughs preceding it. This is an alarmingly misguided effort, pairing two very different actresses – one of them good – in a tired and cliche-riddled tale of drug kingpins and police corruption. There is a constant bid in the film community to get women better, more well-defined comedic roles. Hot Pursuit yells in the face of that notion, and yelling seems to be its solution for just about everything.
Reese Witherspoon stars as Officer Rose Cooper, an uptight and rule-abiding officer who’s struggling to make it in the department. After an embarrassing incident in which she accidentally sets the mayor’s son on fire, she’s relegated to desk duty in the evidence locker. Opportunity knocks when she’s tasked with accompanying her partner (Jones) as part of a detail to escort Daniella (Vergara), the star witness in the trial against drug kingpin Vicente Cortez (Joaquín Cosio). Different in every respect, the two must work together to stay alive and decide who can be trusted in the process.
Screenwriters David Feeney and John Quaintance mostly have TV credits to their names, which begins to explain why Hot Pursuit is so episodic and pitched at sitcom level. From trying to squeeze through a small bathroom window to escape to being forced into a lesbian kiss, we’ve seen all this material before and in better films. Anne Fletcher’s flat direction practically says, “Hey, these two women are funny! That’s enough!” It’d be tempting to blame the Hollywood cog for sanding these female characters down to screaming nitwits, but both Witherspoon and Vergara have producing credits on this movie. Come on, ladies.
Witherspoon, coming off a fantastic performance in Wild and a few impressive producing credits, is slumping big-time here. Stuck in essentially a Barney Fife role, she does her best to turn on the clueless charm, but it’s largely to no avail. She’s downright tolerable compared to Vergara, a one-note actress who’s infinitely more palatable in small doses. Like Head and Shoulders commercial doses. There will eventually be a supercut of all her bizarre noises and yelling in this film. It’s a sonic assault that does not elicit one laugh. Hot Pursuit is a prime example of why major studios are hesitant to front female-led comedies, and certainly doesn’t do anyone any favors in the process. There’s “paying the bills,” then there’s something this lazy, uninspired, and hackneyed.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Length: 87 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, violence, language and some drug material.
Theatrical Release: May 8, 2015
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Written by: David Feeney & John Quaintance
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, John Carroll Lynch, Rob Kazinsky, Richard T. Jones