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‘Hot Pursuit’ Review: So Shrill Only Your Dog Will Laugh

There were more than a few weak Burt Reynolds’ films salvaged by end-credit outtakes and bloopers, which were always hilarious. You never wanted them to end. The effect was manipulative and brilliant.  Instead of exiting the theater with the bad taste of the last 95 minutes fresh in your mouth, your final impression involved the goodwill that always comes with some pretty big laughs.

“Hot Pursuit” is so horribly conceived and acted, so lacking in buddy-comedy chemistry, that even the end-credit outtakes stink.

Reese Witherspoon is an Oscar-winner. Sofia Vergara is the multi-nominated star of one of the most iconic sitcoms of the decade. Who convinced them to attach their reputation and talent to what is essentially a cheap 1970’s television remake of “Midnight Run” (1988) starring Barney Fife and Charo?

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Witherspoon plays Barney Fife, the smallish, tightly-wound, by-the-book inept cop looking for redemption. Vergara is Charo, an over-dressed, over-sexed, overbearing screechy Columbian wife of a drug lord with a price on her head. Officer Cooper and Danielle Riva are an odd couple — get it? — and with drug dealers and dirty cops on their tail and trail, they have to make it from somewhere in Texas all the way to … somewhere else in Texas.

Nothing works.

Nothing.

The situations are contrived and predictable. The relationships are contrived and predictable. The bickering is contrived and predictable … and loud … and shrill … and grating. The evolution of the friendship between the two leads is contrived and predictable. The plot twists are — you get it.

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For a comedy to succeed, first and foremost, you have to buy into the characters and the situations. This is especially true for broad comedies. As inept and unrealistic as Inspector Clouseau and Lou Costello were, the craftsmanship of the filmmaking and the talent of the actors allowed you to buy into that world.

Other than some of the worst comedy dialogue ever, that is the real problem with “Hot Pursuit” — you just don’t buy it. Barney Fife loses her police radio. She and Charo are on the run for their lives and need help. Then, oops!, Charo accidentally loses the iPhone out the speeding car window.

Bicker. Bicker. Bicker.

Cheap-looking action scene involving desperate slapstick.

Bicker. Bicker. Bicker.

Handcuff time.

Bicker. Bicker. Bicker.

Charo vamps! Rolls her eyes! Stumbles around on high heels!

Barney Fife constantly quotes police code, ’cause a hundred years after “Car 54 Where Are You?” that’s still hilarious.

Exposition. Bicker. Exposition. Bicker.

The unsexiest, unfunniest lesbian scene in history.

Bicker.

Bicker.

ZZzzz…

Considering current events, and how inappropriate The Worst People In America would find jokes about police brutality and racial profiling, you’d think I would have at least received some perverse pleasure in those.

Nope.

 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC               

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