Thursday, February 22 , 2018, 2:24 am | Fair 36º

 
 
 
 

Cinema in Focus: ‘Hit and Run’

It's a low-budget, adolescent comedy with adult language and immature resolutions

2 Stars — Shallow

Hit and Run is an adolescent comedy with adult language and childish maturity. It will make you laugh, much the same way a teenager laughs at goofy stunts, but it will also make you groan when the two immature main characters try to get serious.

Dax Shepard produced, directed and starred in this low-budget comedy, along with his real-life girlfriend, Kristen Bell. To his credit, the film has a good cast, including Bradley Cooper who plays Alex Demitri, a bank robber for whom Shepard’s character, Charles Bronson ( aka Yul Perrkins), used to be a getaway driver. In addition, we have the madcap Tom Arnold (Randy Anderson) who plays a federal agent trying to protect Charles Bronson in a “witness protection program,” Michael Rosenbaum (who played Lex Luthor on the series Smallville) plays a former rejected boyfriend named Gil Rathbinn, and surprisingly, Kristin Chenoweth, a Broadway star of great musicals such as Wicked, playing an inept junior college administrator.

The premise of the movie is simple. A cute young girl has taken up with a seemingly not very ambitious young dude who is into fast cars. When she finds that she is up for a job in Los Angeles and has to get there within a couple of days for the interview, the boyfriend now has to decide whether to reveal to her that he can’t travel due to the fact that he is in a witness protection program when he turned state’s evidence on his bank robbing gang. He decides he loves her enough to risk evading his parole officer who is there to protect him. But he does not tell his girlfriend the truth.

Meanwhile, the girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend Gil, who is equally immature, discovers Bronson’s true identity and rats him out to his former bank robber accomplices looking for him to kill him. The mayhem that follows provides most of the comedy in the story.

The best parts of the story are the inept but zany antics of Arnold, who has a series of misadventures with his car. Most of the story is harmless and provides a few laughs, but the love story is on par with the mentality of a 14-year-old. I guess if you are trying to get some laughs by mimicking a trailer park romance, it hits its mark. Trying to believe that anyone would stay with a lying bank robber who “has killed a few people,” just because he promises he will never do it again, was enough to make people in the theater groan.

In the 1940s and ‘50s, moviegoers were confronted with idealistic images of marriage and family life that sometimes, if not often, didn’t measure up to the viewers’ reality. Nevertheless, it was an ideal to which our society clung as a model. Today, our “modern family” model is based on the bizarre behavior of those who hang around Hollywood, writing about what they experience — an experience that is a far cry from a healthy ideal sought by most of the country.

It would be laughable, except for the fact that people do mimic what they see on television and in the movies. Basing your relationships on nothing of value is a sad commentary on our society today.

Hit and Run is not going to be in the running for an Academy Award, and it was never meant to be a serious look at life as most people know it. If you are looking for a crude comedy, then it will provide some entertainment. Otherwise, save your money.

Discussion:

» The need to create films often causes filmmakers to look to the lowest human denominators. What do you think can be done to increase the quality of films being made?

» The practice of turning a member of a criminal gang against his or her accomplices requires ongoing protection from retribution. Do you believe this is a valid judicial practice?

» The fact that “love is blind” has caused many young women to hitch their wagons to a “bad boy.” How do you think we can protect young ladies from such choices?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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