Hot Pursuit – Film Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofía Vergara, Robert Kazinsky, John Carroll Lynch
In cinemas July 31st
Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara have both proved their comedy credentials. Reese with her hilarious turns in the Legally Blonde films and Sofia in her ongoing role in hit sitcom Modern Family. They are also polar opposites with Vergara’s fiery Latino persona being in sharp contrast to Witherspoon’s oft portrayed WASPish personality. I’m sure many people have thought would surely be a genius idea in a contemporary female Odd Couple kind of way.
Well at last someone has and this is the result. Witherspoon plays Rose Cooper, an uptight police officer whose strong sense of duty has hindered her personal life and given her an intensity that many can’t deal with. She is tasked with transporting Vergaras’s Daniella Riva, a drug lord’s wife who is entering the witness protection programme, to Dallas alongside her husband who is set to testify against a major player. However before they even leave the Riva’s lavish mansion there is a shootout and Daniella’s husband is killed as is Rose’s partner. Thrust together with the whole state of Texas thinking they are fugitives the pair must try and get to the bottom of the killing as Rose does her utmost to fulfil her duty and get the feisty and reluctant Daniella to her destination.
With a plot that is a pretty standard opposites attract buddy story these kind of movies rely on the chemistry and comic timing of their stars to elevate them from standard fare. Unfortunately here neither Witherspoon nor Vergara seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Both look supremely uncomfortable throughout and it isn’t helped by some extremely clunky dialogue. Despite having a female director there are a couple of truly gratuitous scenes that serve no impact whatsoever. At one point the pair pretend to be lesbians to get themselves out of a tight spot and in another they have a “cat fight” that seems to be more the stuff of male fantasy. Neither scene really works and feels shoehorned in for effect. The plot also becomes incredibly contrived as it progresses as if they are trying to make it deeper than it is.
The trailer for this makes it look hilarious but that really is all the best bits chopped together. I wanted to love this and done properly it could have paved the way for far more female led movies of the same ilk. As it is though it is a confused mess that even its stars can’t save. Without leading ladies of this calibre it would have been a straight to DVD/online subscription offering. That said it’s done decent enough box office for its budget Stateside and it does have an odd kind of appeal in a sympathy vote kind of way.
Forgettable and run of the mill the highlight of this is actually seeing former EastEnder Robert Kazinsky doing his best American drawl as a love interest for Witherspoon’s character. Need I say more.
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