Review: Hot Pursuit

“Wait! What?’ was the first thing that came to mind when I heard Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara were starring in a buddy cop film called Hot Pursuit. My initial reaction was followed up by questions like When was this filmed? Why? and Wait! What? a few more times.

Those head-scratching questions would be a theme before, during, and after the movie.

The plot for Hot Pursuit is right out of the late 90’s early 2000’s buddy cop manual. Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) is a cop, who is as anxious as she is awkward, working at the evidence locker in her precinct. She’s given the task of helping Detective Jackson (Richard T Jones) transport The Rivas to Dallas so they can testify against notorious drug lord Vincente Cortez (Joaquin Coslo). During the pickup, a group of gunmen ambush them killing Detective Jackson and Mr. Rivas in the process. Cooper and Daniela Rivas (Sofia Vergara) escape and try to make their way to Dallas before Cortez’s men get to them.

Like any standard buddy cop movie, the real problem isn’t Cooper and Daniela being hunted by ruthless hitmen but their inability to get along. The rich wife of a drug dealer and a blue collar cop don’t get along. Shocking! Despite the Grand Canyon size differences between them, the two must work together if they’re going to survive.

Hot Pursuit is stuffed with problems and it starts with the two lead characters. The problem isn’t with the actors – Witherspoon and Vergara are both fine actors, but the characters they’re playing are some of the Hollywood’s most tired stereotypes. Witherspoon’s Texas accent is painful from the first time we hear her speak until the credits role. It’s not just that her accent is Nicolas Cage Con Air bad, but she recites her lines at breakneck speed and it’s unclear why. Witherspoon’s character spends most of the movie rapidly mumbling penal codes like Rain Man, being annoyingly awkward, and saying “You don’t know anything about me”. Vergara’s character doesn’t do her any favors by mirroring every character she’s played in the last decade. Her character spends most of her time screaming (this includes an ear piercing cry-scream), mispronouncing words, and saying “You don’t know anything about me”. Vergara even has the obligatory underwear scene. The big question – Why is Sofia Vergara still playing these cliché characters? Seriously, asking her has to be borderline offense right? I can see a director saying “Great take! Okay, can you do that again but this time say it a little more…………you know”.

The two leads are flanked by a group of supporting actors, but their roles are incredibly insignificant, plus they’re handicapped as well by the films bad script and predictable storyline. Seeing Jim Gaffigan make a cameo gave me a little hope. That lasted until his scene started to mimic the rest of the movie– lazy joke writing and the two leads bumbling through another predictable scenario.

Most of the jokes and “funny” scenarios don’t work. It’s partially because they’ve been done 1,000 times, but mostly  because none of the characters have comedic chemistry together. Even the films running gags that start off as funny are hammered so many times they become a disturbing reminder that you’re still watching the movie.

To be fair, the audience I saw the movie with laughed the entire time. You would’ve thought we were watching Wedding Crashers for the first time. They enjoyed every gag in Hot Pursuit, laughed at all the silly slapstick, and some even applauded at the end. For as bad as the film is, it’s a broad PG-13 comedy that’s guaranteed to live a second life on TBS in two years. It’s the perfect film for cable companies to play whenever Vergara and Witherspoon have a new movie out.

Director Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses, The Proposal) and writers David Feeney and John Quaintance are capable of making a competent comedy so I’m not sure how she ended up with something this insufferable. The worst part is audiences will get a glimpse of what Hot Pursuit could’ve been during the end credits blooper reel. Sadly, most of them won’t see it because they’ll be fleeing for the exits.

Grade: D