Friday, August 24, 2012

Hit and Run [2012]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O)  Roger Ebert (3 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (0 Stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert's review -

I suppose we learn a number of things about Dax Shepard in the film Hit and Run, which he wrote, codirected (along with David Palmer) and costarred in: He likes cars, can write a decent slacker comedy/rom-com, but for some reason is either really stupid or a racist:

There is a scene in this film, which he wrote and codirected, in which co-star Bradley Cooper drags a large, otherwise powerfully-built African American man out of a convenience store with a leash around his neck and then proceeds to force feed the African American man the "slightly cheaper" dog food that he was trying to buy for his dog.

Was the scene necessary to the plot?  Even if "the point" was to portray Bradley Cooper's character, a former bank-robber as a psychopath, there would have been any number of ways that Shepard and the rest of his film-crew could have made it.  Instead, they chose _this_ way, which congers up the dragging death (SENSELESS MURDER) of James Byrd, Jr in Jaspers Texas, one of the worst hate crimes to have occurred in the United States in past 20 years.

The choice of including this unnecessary scene is unfortunate because the movie is often very funny as both a "slacker comedy" and as a "romcom" about a smart talented, but not particularly confident young woman (who really should have been a professor, having gotten a PhD from Stanford University in "Conflict Resolution Studies") played by Kristen Bell, and a nice/supportive if not particularly bright ex-con played by Shepard.

Some more conservative Catholics/Christians would have probably objected to the generally lighthearted/positive portrayal of a couple of gay characters in the film.  Yet this is always the frustration when it comes to trying to take a stand against bigotry.  The film challenges anti-gay bigotry (even that, if we are honest, which exists within many places in the Catholic Church today) and then features the utterly needless scene above featuring the humiliation of an African American man.

Shocking hate crimes, after all, have been committed against homosexuals as well, notably in the case of the torture and de facto lynching Matthew Shepard in Wyoming a few  years after the Jame Byrd's dragging death in Texas.  (Dax Shepard shares Matthew Shepard's last name but is apparently not related to him).

So I am disappointed with this film and do hope that its young stars which include Dax Shephard, Kristen Bell and Bradley Cooper choose to do better in the future.  To carelessly walk into a situation which leaves viewers scratching their heads and wondering if the film-makers/actors were a bunch of racists, can't possibly be a wise career move.  After all, these talented young actors are one day going to want to work with likes of Zoe Saldana, Viola Davis, Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.  Yet, thanks to this film, they've probably made such future collaboration somewhat and _stupidly_ "awkward."

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