REVIEW: Hot Pursuit

25 09 2015

The easy insult to hurl at “Hot Pursuit” is that of a hot mess – because you know how us writers love wordplay, especially in movie titles that seem to invite clever barbs.  But in this case, such a label fails to describe what really goes wrong.

A hot mess implies there is something interesting or oddly compelling in its failure.  Anne Fletcher’s film could not be farther from that.  Within minutes, it becomes obvious that everyone involved just wants to play it safe.  And that makes for one wickedly boring 87 minute pursuit of mediocrity.

“Hot Pursuit” pits the formidable talents of Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara against each other but fails to realize either of their potential.  Vergara, as often seems to be the case, gets reduced to her looks and her naturally thick accent.  She plays Daniella Riva, the widow of a drug lord, who agrees to testify in a case against a kingpin.  But when her police transport goes haywire, she gets stuck with Witherspoon’s straight-laced cop Rose Cooper.

To get a frame of reference on Rose, imagine Tracy Flick levels of Type A behavior without all the self-confidence and a thick, put-on fake Texan accent.  (As a native Southern belle, Witherspoon could have just used her regular vocal cadence and no one would have batted an eyelid.)  I can see how maybe the star’s entourage thought “Hot Pursuit” might make for an interesting career move since Rose is a veritable man repeller.  For Witherspoon, who so often plays heroines forced to choose between two men, perhaps this character marks her attempt at subverting her own image?

She should just stick to “Wild,” though, as “Hot Pursuit” offers her nothing but a tired, predictable premise and one-note jokes.  The comedic pairing with Vergara yields disappointingly little heat.  For a fraction of the price tag, they could have just gone on talk shows together and gotten more laughs.  C2stars

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