Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reel Relations

Hit & Run       WWW Score: 85%

Is it possible for a single element to save an entire film? When we're talking about the relationship at its center, I'd venture to say "yes" to that. The movie that proves it, Hit & Run, features one of the most organic on-screen couples I've seen of recent note: Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard.

Now considering they're engaged in the real world, the news that Bell and Shepard have stellar chemistry shouldn't come as altogether shocking. But what manifests itself in Hit & Run is something unique. Something unexpected. Something that redefines "natural". Shepard and Bell's unfeigned relationship single-handedly turns Hit & Run from a scatterbrained chase flick into an unanticipated treat.

Shepard is Charlie, an ex-getaway guy in witness protection in Nowhere, California. His girlfriend Annie (Bell) is teaching psychology at the local dump of a community college run by a riotous Kristin Chenoweth. When the opportunity for a more prestigious position opens up for Annie in L.A., the duo hit the road in his 700 horsepower 1967 Lincoln.

Charlie's past comes back to bite him in the form of a dreadlock-sporting, Adidas-pants-wearing Bradley Cooper, Charlie's former cohort in crime looking for a spot of revenge. Cooper - and his yellow-lensed Ray Bans - tracking down the guy who put him behind bars and forced him to endure a painful stay in prison. The Hangover superstar slinging his trademarked acerbic wit in the recanting of the experience.

Somewhat successful in the realm of R-rated comedies, Cooper is clearly the focus of the film's marketing campaign but it's Bell and Shepard's candid relationship talk that keeps Hit & Run's pistons pumping. It's so honest, so real; they're the kind of conversations I've had with my significant other over the years - minus the ex-con stuff. The betrothed pair shredding the veneer of acting and entering a Zen-like state.

With cars fishtailing at an ungodly level, Shepard delivers capably as both as the film's co-director and writer of its hit and miss script. It's work that will move Shepard up a notch or two on Hollywood's food chain but he should be thanking his lucky stars that his future bride came along for the ride.