‘Hot Pursuit’ is a hot mess

Early in “Hot Pursuit,” when the characters played by Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara are on the run in a classic convertible, it’s easy to think of that iconic duo from “Thelma & Louise.”

It’s even easier to hope they suffer a similar fate.

There’s nothing in “Hot Pursuit” to justify the price of a Redbox rental, let alone a full-price movie ticket. It’s little more than 87 minutes of bickering, embarrassing physical comedy, lazy insults and man shaming. But at least it’s awful in a genial way, compared to that angry, dead-inside feeling you got from watching “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.”

Officer Cooper (Witherspoon) — yes, for the majority of the movie, her first name is Officer — grew up in the back seat of her dad’s squad car. When a first date with a guy she met on ChristianMingle.com goes badly, she brandishes her gun. And she’s been exiled to evidence lockup for having tasered the mayor’s son and set him on fire because she overheard him claiming his buddy’s passenger seat by “calling shotgun,” and she thought that meant he was armed.

But when it comes time to transport crime boss Felipe Riva (Vincent Laresca) and his wife, Daniela (Vergara), across Texas to testify against a drug lord, Cooper is brought in because regulations require the presence of a female officer. You know, in case Mrs. Riva has any “lady problems” along the way.

Before Cooper and the detective (Richard T. Jones) in charge can take custody of the Rivas, they’re ambushed, and Mr. Riva and the detective are killed. When Cooper and Mrs. Riva — for the majority of the movie, her first name is Mrs. — flee the scene, they’re branded as fugitives.

For reasons that may be as simple as the fact that Cooper’s a cop and Riva’s the widow of a crime boss, the two never get along. But the odd couple pairing — Riva’s tall and sexy; Cooper’s “teeny tiny” and boyish — never pays off because neither character even remotely resembles a human being.

Cooper comes off like an asexual robot, commandeering everything in sight and relying on awkward syntax, as when she asks Riva if she’s “concealing a communication device in your chestal area.” Riva, meanwhile, is basically “Modern Family’s” Gloria cranked up to 11 and stripped of any likability.

But at least Vergara is on familiar ground for her first big-screen vehicle, because so much of “Hot Pursuit” feels like a sitcom. Although not the clever, Emmy-winning kind to which she’s accustomed.

Directed by Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal”), “Hot Pursuit” was written by sitcom veterans David Feeney and John Quaintance. They worked together on Fox’s gone-too-soon “Ben and Kate,” but their combined resumes include the likes of “According to Jim,” “Whitney,” “Bad Judge” and nine episodes of “Joey.” Raise your hand if you knew there even were nine episodes of “Joey.”

“Hot Pursuit” paints its male characters as idiots. Cooper and Riva escape from a couple of crooked detectives (Michael Mosley, Matthew Del Negro) — fully grown, adult detectives, mind you — by explaining menstruation and grossing them out.

Yet in most cases, it makes its leading ladies demean themselves to drive home that point. When they need to pay for a new wardrobe at a convenience store without being recognized, Riva somehow manages to expose even more cleavage than usual to distract the cashier. And when they’re held at gunpoint by a farmer (Jim Gaffigan), they make out — awkwardly and horribly — so he won’t call the police.

Not surprisingly for a movie that tries to wring comedy out of raccoon herpes and performing the Heimlich maneuver on a dog, Gaffigan gets one of its most genuine laughs simply by exclaiming, after he injures a finger, “My banjo hand!”

“Hot Pursuit” pulls off a couple of amusing bits involving the leads, but there are far too few to justify spoiling them.

Witherspoon knows good material. She developed “Wild” and “Gone Girl.” But this is about as far from good as she’ll hopefully ever stray. It barely even qualifies as material.

For some of you, the sight of the curvaceous Vergara wrestling with Witherspoon or running around in a “Butter My Biscuit” T-shirt will be enough.

But for everyone else, “Hot Pursuit” is a hot mess.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter: @life_onthecouch

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like