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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hot Pursuit 2015 * Star

Hot PursuitDirector: Anne Fletcher
Year: 2015
Rated PG-13
Rating: * Star
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Michael Mosley

In the opening scene of 2015's Hot Pursuit (my latest review), a police officer is driving around with his 7 to 8 year old daughter (a younger version of the main character) huddled in the back seat. He's taking on hardened criminals, arresting prostitutes, and even attempting to fire his gun in the line of duty. The little tyke must have signed a waiver or it's just take your child to work week. Yeah that's what it is... not!

Anyway, Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon obviously had a lot of fun making this flick. Myself? Well, I didn't have a lot of fun watching it. In fact, I would rather endure a four hour insurance seminar with walking pneumonia than to have to take in a second viewing. This is screwball comedy masked as faux implausibility. This is Thelma & Louise revealed as the galling, stepdaughter version. Heck, this is "Hot" Garbage touted as working title incarnate. To say that "Pursuit" is among the crappiest films released this year is a conspicuous understatement. I just hope that bubbly Elle Woods is enjoying her $15 million dollar paycheck at the conclusion of the wrap party.

Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses) is behind the camera and her direction for the most part, flaunts itself as pedestrian. She's about as comfortable with the concept of physical comedy as a cow playing the waiting game inside a slaughterhouse. Added to that, Hot Pursuit's screenplay feels like it was written on napkins. And just a thought, was this thing filmed over a three day weekend? I'm thinking no. But it sure as heck felt like it was.

Containing almost no laughs, featuring sequences of nettlesome, rapid-fire dialogue that evaporate right before your eyes, and referencing a women's menstrual cycle through two cringe-worthy script readings (ugh), Hot Pursuit chronicles a pint-sized, rent-a-cop in Rose Cooper (Witherspoon). Her late father inspired her to pursue a career in law enforcement. The downside is that in the beginning of the film's 87 minute running time, she's relegated to desk work due to her hyperactive inefficiency on the job. When she gets an opportunity to redeem herself via protecting a drug informant's wife (Daniella Riva played by Sofia Vergara), Coop froths at the chance. The proceedings then dive into her and Riva bickering ceremoniously while barreling through the state of Texas. As the film gets closer and closer to paydirt, (spoiler alert) there are at least three twists coming. Two of them involve Cooper's superior officers turning on her while revealing that they secretly work for the bad guys. You have to wonder, the superintendent that hired these crooked schleps probably needed to be brought in front of a committee (for outright dismissal).

Now I no doubt feel that Witherspoon can act. She's won a frickin Oscar and recently got nominated for another (2014's Wild). However, I've never seen her so unlikable in a role like the one she plays here. Her Cooper is judgemental, a spaz, socially inept, and borderline insubordinate. The fact that she gets hurled into the field is only predicated on moving the plot along. Cooper trooper would be better off sitting behind a desk, answering phone calls, or partaking in some serious counseling. When she infiltrates a mob invested party (as a Justin Bieber lookalike) and involves herself in a Mexican standoff, I got a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. I mean honestly, would you as a police chief, let someone carry a firearm after they put a taser to a college student belting out the word "shotgun"? Yeah, me neither. As for Sophia Vergara, well I've never been a huge fan of hers to begin with. She's beautiful to look at but irksome as heck. She's the reason I can't quite get through an episode of Modern Family. Her and Louisiana's golden girl try to out annoy each other while the audience shakes their heads in disbelief. This is a screen pairing that's about as credible as the food equivalent of green beans and butterscotch candy. Yuck!

In conclusion, like every other bad comedy from the last ten years, Hot Pursuit does in fact, contain outtakes at the end. We've seen this all before. The actors flub their lines and laugh uncontrollably. I mean, it almost comes off as scripted now. Truthfully, the only time I've ever embraced end-of-the-movie bloopers was after 1981's The Cannonball Run concluded. They were actually funny and sort of the first of their kind. Nowadays every darn gag reel seems to be used as filler. During one of the deleted scenes, Reese Witherspoon messes up a line and actually says, "I was about to give the performance of a lifetime." Sure you were Reese. That's a good one. Hilarious!

Of note: There's another movie titled Hot Pursuit that came out in the spring of 1987. It starred John "I always get the girl" Cusack. It was no masterpiece but you can safely say you saw it instead of this clutter.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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