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HOT PURSUIT is One Hot Mess – Movie Review

After a string of turns in acclaimed dramatic fare like MudInherent Vice, and Wild, for which she earned a Best Actress nomination, not to mention producing both Wild and Gone Girl, Reese Witherspoon must be tried from being so … serious. How else to explain Hot Pursuit, a return to the shoddy comedies that dimmed her once bright star? This Means WarHow Do You Know and Four Christmases nearly left the actress trapped in Kate Hudson-like purgatory, stuck in rom-com hell, and Hot Pursuit finds the Oscar winning actress diving back into this treacherous territory head-first.

Hot Pursuit

As the opening montage of Hot Pursuit suggests, Cooper (Witherspoon) has grown up in the back of her father’s police car, learning the in’s and out’s of what it takes to protect and serve. She knows all there is to know about being a cop, to the point she uses police codes and lingo every time she speaks. Yet, as the film hones in on the adult Cooper, the wunderkind has been demoted to the evidence room because of a faux pas involving a teenager yelling shotgun – not because he had one, but because he wanted to sit in the front of his friend’s car. For someone versed in every part of the law, it’s insulting that Cooper wouldn’t know that “calling shotgun” originally referred to someone riding as an armed guard for a stagecoach or train.

Then again, not much of Cooper makes a lot of sense. On the run with Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara, looking and acting like she walked straight from the set of Modern Family to Hot Pursuit), the wife of a recently murdered drug lieutenant, Cooper not only freezes during a fire fight, but she lets Daniella take her gun in the middle of a hug-it-out session, then seemingly has no clue how to disarm the woman.

Hot Pursuit

Logic isn’t really at the forefront of Hot Pursuit, but neither is humor. All of the jokes misfire, going over about as well as trying to drink a gallon of milk. Director Anne Fletcher, veteran of such comedy duds 27 Dresses and The Guilt Trip, may have actually made her worst one yet. Sure, it’s nice to see Witherspoon game enough to let people repeatedly make fun of her height (according to IMDB, she’s not even 5’2″), but the first, second, even eighth joke about her closeness to the ground is unfunny.

Only Reese Witherspoon knows why starring in Hot Pursuit seemed like a good idea at this point in her career. Maybe she wanted to cut loose. Have a little fun. She can be funny on screen, but something as painfully unfunny as this cheap Midnight Run knock-off feels so beneath her, you almost wish she’d gone to Hawaii for a few weeks instead.

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The Author

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill used to spend his time writing screenplays into a notebook instead of doing homework. That love of film and all things storytelling led him to spend most of his time writing. He's been a film critic in North Carolina for over five years, and his debut novel, THE BOOK OF BART, is out now. Please buy it. Ryan also feels odd about referring to himself in the third person.