Real-life couples don't always generate bona fide sparks on screen.
Think Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in "Eyes Wide Shut" or, for a more desultory example, Madonna and Sean Penn in "Shanghai Surprise."
Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell may not have a cute tabloid nickname (DaxBell? KriShep??) in their favor, but their crisp chemistry makes "Hit & Run" a sleeper pick for home video.
The film, out on Blu-ray and DVD this week, lets Shepard co-write, co-direct and star in a road trip comedy where he tries his darndest to woo Bell's character.
It's a shambling comedy effort, filled with sharp comic performances (Kristin Chenoweth) and less certain ones (sorry, Tom Arnold). It's still a winning experience, a chance to watch the lovebirds flirt, fight and flee some unsavory types while showing off what a classic muscle car can do.
Charlie Bronson (Shepard) lives a simple life with his professor girlfriend Annie (Bell) in Smalltown USA. He's in the witness protection program, and he doesn't mind his town's lack of character so long as Annie is by his side. When she gets the job offer of a lifetime in L.A., he decides to abandon government protection to tag along.
Charlie's past soon catches up to him, and a few plot pretzels later the couple's bond is in jeopardy.
"Hit & Run" coasts on the main couple's chemistry even if some of the running gags could use a blast of nitrous. Bradley Cooper, sporting some serious dreadlocks, offers a giddy contrast to his leading man roles--even if his character makes little sense.
Other sequences appear to be ad-libbed, making us wish they stuck to the script or tried another few takes.
The film's big question concerns the couple's long-term future, but "Hit & Run" is also an ode to muscle car movies of yore. No, it's not as silly as the average Burt Reynolds action comedy, but the slow-motion shots of Charlie's car tires spinning and the throb of its engine tells us plenty about the enduring power of classic movie cars.
That affection permeates the film, and while its box office statistics were unimpressive it could have a long, healthy life on home video.
Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes and "Street Legal," in which Shepard and Bell wax poetic about the film's true star, the 1967 Lincoln Continental taking our heroes to the City of Angels.
"Run and Gun" reveals just how personal "Hit & Run" proved for the leads.
"It's about us, really," Bell says.
"Every one of my best friends is in this movie," Shepard adds.
"Hit & Run" plays out like a celebrity couple's scrapbook, but one even strangers like us can enjoy.