Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofía Vergara, John Carroll Lynch
Uptight and by the book cop Cooper (Witherspoon) is finally given her first field assignment; to escort Mexican Daniella (Vergara) from San Antonio to Dallas so she can testify against a notorious drug lord. However when things go wrong they are forced to race through Texas pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen despite Cooper’s total lack of experience in the field.
The good old buddy movie is a very familiar story for a mainstream comedy, in this case we have a cop and a convict which has been done many, many times before. That is fine, as it can be a good starting point as what is more important is the script and performances than the actual story, and in Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara they have chosen two actresses who have proved many times that they can do comedy. Unfortunately all involved have forgotten about the script element, and so have produced a film on a similar level to Ride Along that is a distinctly laugh less and irritating 90 minutes, and contender for one of the worst films of 2015.
The script by David Feeney and John Quaintance is unbelievably lazy and often just resorts to stereotypes of either genres or being embarrassing slapstick as the source of its ‘comedy’. Well, when I say script, the painfully episodic nature of the narrative makes the whole thing feel like it was made up by everyone as it went along. A plot that is not very well thought out can be forgivable, but not if what is on screen never even threatens to generate any kind of laughter or enjoyment.
Witherspoon and Vergara are obviously very talented and funny actresses, and this is the kind of film which they should have excelled in together, and they do appear to share some chemistry, but the script gives them nothing to work with. Unfortunately as the script is so devoid of ideas or invention that it seems to bring them down to its level, and they both increasingly overact to seemingly make up for the script’s shortcomings, but in doing so both end up being rather irritating to watch, only making the whole viewing experience even more painful.
It does feel that with the plot the set pieces were written first and then just held together by making it up as they went along to get from one to the other. The set pieces themselves are uninventive and visually delivered with no real style or panache, but when it is impossible to care about or even like the story or its characters then it doesn’t really matter either way. A ‘twist’ towards the end feels like it was made up just because they needed to extent the film by twenty minutes and this whole final twenty minutes is probably supposed to have tension, but it is as dull and devoid of any tension or intrigue as the painful 60 or so minutes that preceded it when the characters were on the road.
Action comedies, in particular the buddy action comedies, will always exist, and no matter how generic and unoriginal their premise is they can still be really good fun. However, while the mainstream just thrashes out films like Hot Pursuit with a lazy and flat script devoid of any laughs then it is a genre that will soon become the laughing stock of cinema.
On paper this should have been a good enjoyable, light hearted action comedy, but instead it is one of the worst films of 2015; thanks to a flat and lazy script that relies on lazy gender stereotypes and even lazier slapstick, Hot Pursuit is a soulless and laugh less experience.