UK Release Date: 31st July 2015
Runtime: 87 minutes
Director: Anne Fletcher
Writer: David Feeney, John Quaintance
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Robert Kazinsky, Joaquín Cosio, Michael Mosley, Matthew Del Negro
Synopsis: A Texan cop is tasked with escorting a crucial witness in a drugs trial across the country, but they both end up on the run from the law.
Female-led comedy is now big business in Hollywood, aided by the work of Melissa McCarthy and her directing friend Paul Feig. The latest entry in the growing genre is buddy crimecom Hot Pursuit, which allows Reese Witherspoon to flex her considerable comedic muscles alongside Modern Family star Sofia Vergara, who is one of the most highly paid individuals in the comedy world.
Rose Cooper (Witherspoon) is a Texan cop, dogged by one major cock-up early in her career. She is given the opportunity to escort Daniella Riva (Vergara) to the trial of drug dealer Vicente Cortez (Joaquín Cosio) so she can testify against him. An ambush by armed thugs and the interference of crooked cops makes Cooper’s job very difficult and forces her to ally with Randy (Robert Kazinsky), who wears an ankle bracelet due to an assault conviction.
The issue with Hot Pursuit is not in its premise or its two cast members. The setup is an intriguing one, giving a novel reason for the two women to be thrown into each other’s company. Witherspoon and Vergara are both game and up for it and really give their all in terms of trying to make the film work.
| "Look at you! You are teeny tiny. You look like a little dog that I can put in my purse."
However hard the two leads work, though, there’s no getting away from the fact that Hot Pursuit is an absolute turkey of a script. There’s barely a single joke in the entire film and those that are there are flogged to within an inch of their rather insignificant life. A running gag about Witherspoon’s decreasing height and Vergara’s increasing age in news reports is briefly amusing, but loses all of its levity by the third or fourth time it is used.
It doesn’t help that the plot tries a little too hard to pile on the narrative twists and turns, as if it’s trying to cover for the distinct lack of comedy on show. Even at a very lean sub-90 minute running time, Hot Pursuit really drags and meanders at times as if it doesn’t quite know how to extend its story to fill a feature-length structure.
The film is also entirely lacking in interesting supporting characters for the two great leads to bounce off. Every male character in the film is nothing more than a bland caricature, whether it’s the boo-hiss villain, smarmy bent cops or the dashing bad boy who finally turns Cooper’s head. As much as the film presents its women as complete characters, which is refreshing, they could’ve done with thickening up the men a little.
| "You don’t have to like me but I’m your best chance at surviving."
As much as I wanted Hot Pursuit to be good, it’s difficult to find all that much in the way of positives in the final product. There are a couple of chuckles, but the majority of the attempts at humour fall flat and the film manages to make one of the briefest running times of the year feel like three or four hours. Female-centric comedy is in great shape, but Hot Pursuit is unlikely to be remembered.
Pop or Poop?
Despite the great state of female-led comedy right now, Hot Pursuit feels like a real creative misfire that squanders some great ideas and two game leads.
The comedy doesn’t work and the crime storyline never really intrigues as much as it could. There’s a universe in which this film could have been great, but it definitely isn’t this universe.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.