Movie review: Hit & Run

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From the August 23, 2012 edition

Dax Shepard is an underrated talent. He stole the show in Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” and displays a wealth of range on NBC’s “Parenthood.” But Shepard’s latest project, “Hit & Run,” which he starred in, wrote and co-directed, feels like a stepping stone to better things.

Charlie Bronson (Shepard) is living a good life in witness protection with a wonderful girl, Annie (Kristen Bell), who loves him but doesn’t know the full story behind his protection — he was a getaway driver in bank robberies. When Charlie’s past inevitably comes back into his life, he’s forced to come clean to Annie while keeping them from his former partner/current nemesis Alex (Bradley Cooper, in his best role since “Wedding Crashers”).

A strong cast — Tom Arnold and Michael Rosenbaum are excellent in supporting roles — some pulse-pounding car chases and good humor make recommending “Hit & Run” easy on a surface level, but there are glaring tonal issues. Is this a rom-com? A chase movie? A slapstick comedy?

Thankfully, Shepard covers up much of the film’s inconsistency and is quite good when he’s right at home. Shepard exerts a natural, down-to-earth cool whenever he’s onscreen with his two real-life loves, fiancee Bell and his unfathomably awesome 700-horsepower ’67 Lincoln Continental. Bell and Shepard’s goofy, loving chemistry buoys the entire movie.

If you’re looking for a simple summer popcorn flick with some memorably hilarious scenes (possibly involving octogenarian full-frontal nudity), “Hit & Run” can satisfy. Anything more? Probably not.