The last time I saw Dax Shepard was when I had to review his terribly unfunny mockumentary 'Brother's Justice.' Man that movie was a waste of time. It was essentially 90 minutes of Shepard running around Hollywood pretending to bug stars about his new movie idea. I will say this about Dax though, he's got this laid back attitude that is sort of endearing. Even if I can't stand his bland sense of humor, his demeanor is refreshing when compared to other Hollywood celebs.
'Hit and Run' is written and directed by Shepard, which is apparent from the outset. As a writer, Shepard prefers the mumblecore style of dialogue. Actors improvise and conversations rattle without much purpose, much like many of our real life meandering conversations. However, when you're trying to get through a movie, this can become tiresome.
Dax plays Charlie, who happens to be in the witness protection program. His girlfriend is Annie (Kristen Bell). Yes, it's another one of those movies where a scraggly bearded, unkempt hipster somehow lands a ridiculously good looking girlfriend; although, what do I know since he and Bell are together in reality. Really.
Annie has just been offered her dream job in Los Angeles, but is distraught because they can't leave the tiny town of Milton, where Charlie has been assigned by the U.S. Marshals. Feeling guilty about the situation, Charlie takes it upon himself to personally drive Annie to L.A. even with the risk that the criminals he testified against are still looking for him.
Dax has plenty of familiar friends. 'Brother's Justice' had cameos from Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, and David Koechner. Guess who shows up in 'Hit and Run'? That's right, all of them. Cooper plays Alex Dmitri, the man looking for Charlie. Sporting a head of sickly dreadlocks, Alex looks more like a pasty Bob Marley wannabe than a cold-blooded killer.
There's a dash of sincerity in the screenplay here. You can't help but love Kristen Bell. Annie is a sweet character and Bell puts far more emotion into the role than was really necessary. Shepard's screenplay calls for more than a few heart-to-heart conversations between Charlie and Annie, but they come across as far too heavy-handed. There's not subtlety to the writing.
I do have to give the movie credit for not delving headlong into many of the stereotypical pitfalls that romantic comedies like this often suffer from. Perhaps the most interesting element is the relationship between Alex and Charlie. This isn't the standard gangster-witness association, which allows for more intriguing scenes between the two rather, than diving right into the inevitable good-guys-versus-bad-guys shootout.
Sadly, much of what the movie gets right is overshadowed by the rest. A good amount of the runtime is dedicated to fast cars chasing fast cars, and in particular watching muscle cars peel out, leaving smoke and burned rubber behind. If I didn't know any better I would've thought that Dax Shepard was given directorial duties to a 'Fast and the Furious' sequel. It's obvious that he's obsessed with fast cars and he wanted an excuse to drive a variety of them. There's also the creepy obsession that Shepard's screenplay has with poking fun at homosexuals which goes beyond good-natured ribbing. I mean an iPhone app called "Pouncer" where gay people can pounce on members in the area to have anonymous sex? Really?
I've only ever really liked Dax Shephard when he was in 'Zathura'. I don't connect with his overly dry sense of humor. His relaxed attitude toward moviemaking is admirable, this movie, however, is not.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Universal's release of 'Hit and Run' comes in a Blu-ray/DVD/UtralViolet Digital Copy Combo Pack. The Blu-ray is a 50GB disc. The discs have been packaged inside a standard Blu-ray keepcase that comes complete with a slipcover. The disc is region free.
'Hit and Run' comes to Blu-ray with a strikingly clear and highly detailed 1080p presentation. With intensely saturated colors and richly detailed visuals Universal has delivered a great-looking transfer for a movie that was shot on a miniscule budget.
Colors are dynamically rendered here. Contrast is stable even though the movie tends toward oversaturation as far as colors are concerned. Even so, blacks are inky and whites never burn too hot. All of this adds up to naturalistic images filmed under the hot Californian sun.
The exceptional video presentation doesn't seem to be marred by any unwanted artifacts or technical mistakes. Banding and aliasing are never seen. I was even impressed by the clarity that the filmmakers were able to ascertain during the driving scenes. Obviously cameras were mounted on hoods and hung in corners of the car as it flies around the scene. Never does this footage appear amateurish. The picture always remains highly detailed and particularly colorful. This is an excellent looking Blu-ray in every way.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix isn't as striking as the visuals are, but it's pretty solid in its own right. The screeching tires of Charlie's muscle car echo through the surround channels, which provides for a nice well-rounded listening atmosphere.
Low-end frequencies, like a 700 horse-power engine roaring to life leave the sub-woofer rumbling. There are plenty of car chases, meaning the movie is full of moments where deep LFE is used.
Dialogue is as clear as it should be. It's doubly important here since most of the conversations are off-the-cuff mumblecore type scenes. Pans are smooth. Directionality is as good as it gets. The movie's soundtrack bleeds into the rear channels. Everything that you'd want from a strong audio mix is here.
It isn't as horrid as 'Brother's Justice' was, if that's saying much. The movie really ends up being a mash-up of Shepard's best friends getting together to make a movie and drive a few cool cars really fast. Unfortunately, there isn't much more to it than that. On the other hand the strong video and audio make it worth a peek if you're still interested.