"Hit and Run" has a drive-in goofiness that Roger Corman would admire. This one checks all the boxes for summer escapism: hot cars, hotter women, highway hooliganism, a hell-raising hero, hapless cops, hilarious villains, no plot and no apologies.
It's a high-performance, tire-smokin' auto chase designed to appeal equally to gearheads, action fans and tag-along girlfriends who like a little kissing and relationship talk along with all the carsploitation.
The movie is no triumph of storytelling, but it's a fine example of colorful filmmaking. The plot revolves - or rather careens - around Charlie (Dax Shepard), a laid-back rural Californian, and his sweetheart, postgrad student Annie (Kristin Bell, Shepard's real-life fianc√©e).
The overture is ham-handed comedy, with too-cute comic bickering between the lovebirds, shrub-shredding automotive slapstick involving a visiting U.S. marshal (Tom Arnold) unable to keep his minivan on the road.
Charlie pulls the tarp off his hot-rodded 1967 Lincoln Continental to drive Annie to L.A. for her dream faculty job interview. That muscle car is as black as Charlie's past, which resurfaces to transform their leisurely drive into a stuntman's holiday.
Soon they're at the head of a high-revving motorcade with the federal lawman, Annie's stalkerish ex, two bumbling local cops and Charlie's best-friend-turned-nemesis (Bradley Cooper) in hot pursuit. Charlie, it seems, has some history with the witness-protection program and bank robbery.
The film boasts several slumming stars in odd, juicy roles, with Kristin Chenoweth, Beau Bridges and Sean Hayes in pleasingly eccentric turns. Cooper, usually a suave guy, is the wildest and wooliest of all. His vengeful robber sports yellow aviator glasses, a cascade of blond dreadlocks and appalling fire-engine-red track pants.
If you miss those "Cannonball Run" days of the 1970s when gas was $5 a tank, anything less than six cylinders was a joke, and the asphalt stretched on forever, your film has arrived.
What: "Hit and Run"
Starring: Dax Shepard, Kristin Bell, Bradley Cooper
Directed by: David Palmer, Dax Shepard
Running time: 91 minutes
Rated: R for pervasive language including sexual references, graphic nudity, some violence and drug content.