Film Review: Hot Pursuit (★)

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hot_pursuit_ver2The 2015 slate of early year releases has potentially reached a new low with the achingly unfunny “comedy” Hot Pursuit. I’m not sure if this is actually the worst movie of the year so far, but it certainly felt like it over the nearly 90 agonizing minutes I spent at this screening. Director Anne Fletcher manages to make a significantly worse road movie than the mediocre The Guilt Trip a few years ago, wasting Reese Witherspoon‘s talents in the process. Witherspoon, along with Sofia Vergara, are absolutely abused by this dreadful piece of cinematic trash. The worst part is how it can’t even stick to its already poor premise, flipping the script on how the women are mismatched almost at will. It’s annoying, making an already bad movie that much worse, while wasting what might have been otherwise a throwaway comedy with the occasional odd couple based laugh to be had. Hot Pursuit really left a bad taste in my mouth, offering up only one scene that I didn’t actively dislike, while failing almost completely to illicit any laughter from me. I even started feeling bad for everyone involved. On a day when another of the worst films of the year hits Blu-Ray and DVD (Fifty Shades of Grey), this dreck arrives in theaters to provide another lowlight for 2015 so far. Hot Pursuit is a complete and utter failure in all regards and is something that should be avoided at all costs.

Ironically, the film begins with the best and only quality scene. It’s the opening credits, which show how Cooper (Witherspoon) basically grew up in the backseat of her father’s police cruiser. Now an adult and a cop herself, she’s so by the book and focused on her job that it turns out she’s fairly bad at her job. Relegated to the evidence desk, she’s a punchline until her commanding officer (John Carroll Lynch) taps her to help out in escorting a state’s witness/drug lord named Felipe Riva (Vincent Laresca) and his wife Daniella Riva (Vergara) as they head to testify against a kingpin. Of course, that doesn’t go as planned and Felipe is killed, leaving Cooper to try and protect Daniella. Through some stupid plot machinations, Cooper is said to be a rogue cop on the lamp with the now widow, so they can’t turn to anyone for help. As such, the straight laced cop and the sex bomb widow have to rely on each other. Of course, hatred eventually turns into a friendship, as if you were expecting any less. There are crooked cops galore thrown in for good measure, as well as an attempt to get serious towards the end. Nothing works though, and Hot Pursuit gets worse as it goes along.

hot-pursuit-trailerThere are some talented people in this cast, which makes how much they’re wasted all the more upsetting. Reese Witherspoon just showed off nomination worthy talents last year (and we all know she has comedic chops as well), but here she’s completely off key, mugging for the camera and left adrift on her own. I actively began to feel sorry for her. Sofia Vergara basically had her chest cast and the rest of her came along as a bonus, or at least that’s how the film treats her. The camera is often pointed right at her chest, ignoring the rest of her, which is something that Witherspoon suffers from about halfway through the movie on too. That’s especially annoying because beforehand there are jokes about how flat chested she is, so it’s a contradiction on top of being kind of creepy. They don’t have much chemistry together, so it never comes together at all. John Carroll Lynch is wasted in an insanely cliched role, while the rest of the underserved cast, in addition to the aforementioned Vincent Laresca, includes Mike Birbiglia, Matthew Del Negro, Jim Gaffigan, Richard T. Jones, Rob Kazinsky, Michael Mosley, and more. From top to bottom, they all are stranded without any semblance of a competent film around them.

Anne Fletcher is far from my favorite director, but even so…I expected much more from her here. This is lazy direction, almost as if she knew how bad the screenplay was and wanted no part of this. I wouldn’t blame Fletcher for feeling that way, considering the script by David Feeney and John Quaintance is laughably bad. Unfunny, cliched, and as unoriginal as it gets, there’s really nothing to hold on to here. I didn’t go in looking to hate it, but here we are anyway. It’s not hard to make at least middlebrow jokes about a mismatched pair, but they never even come close to hitting that already easy target.

Again, it wasn’t my intent to trash Hot Pursuit, but once I saw the movie, I felt like it was my duty to report back on just how bad it was. The film is aggressively unentertaining, which is the worst part. It couldn’t even suffice to be mediocre. Sigh. I’m sure some Witherspoon fan out there could try to defend this, but even they must look at this and cringe. Hot Pursuit is easily one of the worst flicks of 2015 to date, so avoid this like the plague. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!