Thursday, May 7, 2015
I do not own the above image. Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
It was around this time last year that I saw a movie meant as a fun excuse for a girls’ night. The movie shall remain nameless (THE OTHER WOMAN…dammit…) but the sentiment won’t: women are moviegoers too and deserve quality movies for them. So, on a weekend where the guys get to fawn over their comics coming to life on the big screen again, the ladies get HOT PURSUIT. What an unfair trade.
Officer Cooper (Witherspoon) is tasked with protecting the wife of a potential witness in the arrest of a drug kingpin. But the wife, Daniella (Vergara), is having none of it. But after the murder of Daniella’s husband and Cooper’s US Marshall partner by dueling assassins, the ladies go on the run.
And hilarity ensues! It a perfect world, that is the case. Unfortunately, this a world co-created by a staff writer on According to Jim and the writer of AQUAMARINE & MATERIAL GIRLS directed by the choreographer-turned-director of STEP UP and 27 DRESSES. So, it should come as no surprise that the jokes are such lowbrow topics as a woman’s love of shoes, a man’s love of lesbianism, granny panties and a lengthy discussion of Sofia Vergara’s menstrual cycle. I remember laughing not a single time at all the slapstick and half-assed attempts at adult humor. There are numerous occasions where jokes about sex are cut off mid sentence so as to not set off the MPAA Ratings Board in order to keep the PG-13 rating.
I have no large issue with Sofia Vergara. I quite enjoy her on Modern Family. In the little spurts we get of her on Wednesday nights, she can be very funny. Here, she is nothing short of awful. As a co-lead in a motion picture, her lack of coherence goes from an amusing little gag to a giant, headache-inducing annoyance. The fact that English is Vergara’s second language works as a joke on television but is destructive when it is occurs while telling a joke.
There are a few moments where Witherspoon shows us why she has an Academy Award winner. Not because anything she does here is awards worthy, but instead because we see her try really hard to get this less-than-buoyant movie afloat. Her Texas accent is so over the top that with minisculely better material, a significant portion of the movie might actually work. Witherspoon needs to stay away from toxic screenplays like this. Luckily, it appears she is going back to Alexander Payne next. Finally, something & someone worthy of her enormous talent.
There is one little element to the movie that does work. During the opening credits sequence, we see young Officer Cooper in the backseat of her father’s police cruiser, idolizing him as he goes about his business ethically. It is in this simple, two-minute montage that the movie presents a false sense of hope that this movie could be anything other than horrible. But all is quickly downhill from there until we reach the joyless, boring third act that takes place at the recently released drug kingpin’s daughter’s quinceanera. This forced finale lacks any tension whatsoever since it wants to be played without comedy, none of the villains are developed beyond the caricature stage and climax with a scene featuring a villain only seen in television news clips up until that point.
HOT PURSUIT ends up as a disastrous, “Girls’ Night Out” wannabe movie. With its 87 minute runtime, it’s barely a movie. With its cutoff, overlong & failed jokes, it’s barely a comedy. With Sophia Vergara as a co-lead, it’s barely comprehensible. With yours truly as a paying customer, I’m barely sane after this experience. With the target audience (hopefully) saving their money for PITCH PERFECT 2 next week, it’ll barely get noticed at the box office and deservedly so. Ladies, you *still* deserve better.