Hot Pursuit must have seemed like a slam dunk. Get two popular actresses who’ve had comedy success, give them a script that’s a little similar to The Heat and bring in a director who had a big hit with The Proposal. However, the resulting movie flopped at the cinemas and has an abysmally low rating of 7% on Rotten Tomatoes.
To be fair to it though, it’s not as dreadful as that might suggest. You can almost feel the critics reacting to the fact it all very forced – a movie that from the ground up feels cynically contrived to pander to the audience and as a result ends up lacking real heart. However, everyone involved is obviously extremely keen to please, rather like an overly keen party host, where you can appreciate the effort even if you wish they wouldn’t try so hard.
Reese Witherspoon is by-the-book cop Cooper, who’s been banished to the evidence room after a mishap with her taser. She thinks she may have a chance at redemption when her boss sends her to help escort Daniella (Sofia Vergara) into protective custody, as the brassy Colombian and her husband are due to give evidence in the prosecution of a drug boss. However, things quickly go wrong when Daniella’s husband is killed by gunmen and Cooper needs to take her charge on the run.
They soon discover that two other policemen are behind the shooting and those crooked cops have now made sure the world thinks Cooper and Daniella who are the ones in the wrong. As a result, the female duo are fugitives, with Cooper thinking her only option is to get Daniella to Dallas and sort the mess out, before the evil cops can get to them.
Individually Witherspoon and Vergara are actually quite good, but they don’t have all that much chemistry together, partly because the script concentrates so hard on try to make each of them funny (and only partially succeeding), and so little on their growing bond or ensuring they’re a good comedy duo. It’s odd that in the featurettes they seem to be having a great time together, as it doesn’t really come across all that much on screen.
But it’s not really their fault, as they’re hamstrung by the contrivance and crassness of so much of the movie. Pretty much all you need to know about the film is that within the first three minutes it’s fallen back on an unfunny, hoary old joke featuring a transgender women with a ridiculously deep, masculine voice. Oh, the hilarity. It follows that up with a dash of homophobic humour and a lot of laughing at the fact someone from Colombia has an accent, and you get a film desperate to prove that it’s not only male-led Hollywood comedies that can trade on lazy stereotypes in an effort to get a cheap laugh.
Indeed, it’s one of the oddest thing about the movie, that there’s an oddly sexist edge to some of it. Despite being led by two actresses and having a female director, the lesson Cooper must learn is that she needs to be more ‘womanly’ and sexualise herself more – especially if she ever expects to get herself a man – while Daniella is here to show the world that a woman can get whatever she wants by using her boobs.
It all makes for a film that is contrived but not coherent. But boy does it put a lot of effort in, making it watchable even if it’s not especially enjoyable.
Overall Verdict: Thanks for the effort, but Hot Pursuit never really comes to life or raises many laughs. The talent is there but the script isn’t.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac