HOT PURSUIT

Starring:  Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Matthew Del Negro, Michael Mosley, Robert Kazinsky, Richard T. Jones, Benny Nieves, Jim Gaffigan

Directed by: Anne Fletcher

TRAILER

maxresdefault1bBuckle up.  You’re going on a wildly contrived road trip that’s supposed to be an uproarious comedy, but rest assured, you won’t die…laughing, that is.  Your brain cells may be in danger, though.

Two likeable and talented actresses (one of them an Academy Award winner) portray Rose Cooper (Reese Witherspoon), a by-the-book, straight arrow cop with a pesky misstep in her past, and Daniella Riva (Sofía Vergara) the glamorous wife of a government witness set to testify against brutal drug cartel leader Vincente Cortez (Joaquín Cosío).

The unlikely duo, a study in contrasts, find themselves on the lam from two different teams of armed bad guys, one a pair of crooked cops, who frame the two for murder.  There’s plenty to run from including the implausible plot.

In the film’s one good running gag, news reports about the two women make Cooper progressively shorter and Daniela progressively older.  That is just one thing that the women protest, in addition to just about everything about each other.  Daniella thinks Cooper looks like a boy and is boring in dress and attitude.    Cooper thinks Daniella is frivolous and way too attached to her shoe collection and décolletage.

Hmm…forced togetherness…total opposites…lots of conflict and insults…just as original as being wrongly accused and on the lam, right?  Yeah, right.

During their adventures across Texas, the pair commandeer a series of vehicles, impersonate a lesbian couple, change clothes publicly at a road-stop store, impersonate a deer, handcuff each other, wrestle for gun superiority, and attempt to lose a couple of shooters (the ammo-loaded kind) during a high speed chase using a tour bus full of senior citizens (some cringe-worthy slapstick there).

Randy (Robert Kazinsky) a potential love interest for Cooper pops up (in the bed of one of the trucks they commandeer) and weaves in and out of the plot, ankle monitor and all, an insignificant backstory.  The real reason he’s here is because what Cooper needs (doesn’t every woman?) is a man – another original concept.

Director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) helms a film that suffers from clumsy timing and tired stereotypes (Latinas are hot-tempered, senior citizens are dopey). Scriptwriters David Feeney (TV’s The New Girl) and John Quaintance (Material Girls) don’t do these girls any favors.

maxresdefaultThe short 87-minute running time is actually a plus, and there are outtakes during the end credits that are funnier than most of the film’s attempts at humor.

Witherspoon and Vergara do emanate a quirky chemistry that may find them teaming up again on something smarter than this stale vehicle, filled with characters that could rightly be named Thelma and Puh-leeze.

Meeting our heroine’s parents (Ben Chaplin and Hayley Atwell) and discovering their “have courage and be kind” influence on their daughter fills in a piece of the Cinderella puzzle long ignored, but initiates the somewhat slow pace to come.That being said, the ballroom scene is full of colorful, dizzying enchantment.

Two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett is the haute couture reason to revel in the visuals as her scathing, scarlet lips issue a cascade of casual crue17708317-largelty.  Wicked stepsisters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) provide vain, silly (but not ugly) counterparts for James’s kind, forgiving, integrity-filled servant-turned-princess. Madden’s prince has a first name, and it is NOT Charming, but he does wear tights, ride horses, and pursue his prized female with a solitary glass shoe.  

Thankfully, some things never change.Director Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet) helms a Chris Weitz (Antz) narrative that is safe – and sumptuous.  Academy Award winners Sandy Powell (costume design) and Dante Ferretti (production design) weave an opulence that for some, will be enough to ride into “Happily Ever After.”Others will find the new Cinderella to be an instance of More is Less.  

Two reels

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