Friday, May 8, 2015

Hot Pursuit [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB ()  ChicagoTribune (1 1/2 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (0 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
ChicagoTribune (R. Moore) review (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (K. Rife) review  

It gives me little pleasure to say that Hot Pursuit [2015] (directed by Anne Fletcher, screenplay by David Feeney and John Quaintance) is probably the worst movie that I've seen (and stayed all the way through...) since I began this blog four years ago.  There were worse movies that I left twenty minutes into them -- The Big Wedding [2013] (which I reviewed here anyway) and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 [2015] (which I didn't even bother) -- to still catch something more worthy of the time / expense playing elsewhere in the cineplex.  But this was one bafflingly terrible movie.

I say bafflingly terrible because Reese Witherspoon who stars in this film has more than proven herself as a serious actress (she won an Academy Award for playing June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line [2005] and was just nominated for her stellar role as a previously "troubled young woman" who decided to "walk herself into becoming the woman that [her] mother always thought she could be" in Wild [2014]).  She's also played some excellent comedic roles, receiving well deserved Golden Globe nominations for her roles in Legally Blonde [2001] and Election [1999].

Similarly director Anne Fletcher, is no novice either.  A number of years ago, she directed a Seth Rogan / Barbara Straisand comedy named The Guilt Trip [2012] "that worked," indeed "worked" very, very well. 

So what happened here?

In large part, I have to blame the screenplay that (one senses) was almost certainly atrocious.  So many of the situations are simply (and incompetently) unbelievable.  Seriously, some of the "escape scenes" in the 30s-40s era "Three Stooges" movies were more believable and certainly better conceived, directed and acted.  (Again, it's difficult to securely assign blame ... but I do believe that the fundamental problem would probably be found in the very conception of some of the situations in the film.  Then the director / actors _perhaps_ tried their best (to varying degrees of success) to salvage them). 
In the film, the eager, if hapless, "by-the-book" second generation San Antonio, Texas cop known to us, throughout, by her last name as "Cooper" (played by Reese Witherspoon), "low in stature" (in more ways than one -- yes, she's "short" but she's _also_ "a woman" in a profession that women still have to "prove themselves" more than men) finds herself tasked with transporting a whiny, ever stiletto-heeled, "high-maintenance," heavily accented Colombian woman named Daniella Riva, "rhymes with 'Diva'" (played by Sofia Vergara who's made _a lot of money_ over the years playing, repeatedly, some of the most dismissive white stereotypes of Hispanic women) from her / her drug-dealing husband's mansion, somewhere outside of San Antonio, to Dallas where she's to testify against her husband's king-pin boss. 

As Cooper's trying to get her _soon to be in a witness protection program_ charge "packed," not one but TWO groups of masked thugs storm the mansion and shoot both Cooper's partner and Daniella's husband.  Yet, amidst the shooting, Daniella SOMEHOW magically gets down from her second floor bedroom, with one 80-pound "bag" (of gold / diamond encrusted, again stiletto-heeled, shoes ...) to a convertible to hide there, along with her fashionable "bag o' shoes" until Cooper happens to pass-by, and ... keys happening to be in the ignition, they are able to tear away to escape (neither of the gangs storming the house apparently bothered to keep someone, ANYONE, standing outside to prevent or at least impede escape ...).  The rest of the movie follows ...

It turns out, somehow, that Cooper actually gets blamed for Daniella's husbands death and Daniella's subsequent disappearance.  So for a good part of the movie, the media is shown _repeatedly_ reporting that police are looking for an _increasingly short_ "rogue police officer" (Cooper) and an _increasingly old_ former diva of a wife of a notorious drug-trafficker (Daniella).  Ha, ha ...  Yet, at every step of the way, people don't seem to recognize them (until they get away) and the police ALWAYS COME LATE, NEVER SEND FOR ANY BACK-UP, and NEVER SEEM TO GIVE CHASE when it's patently obvious how the two are getting away.  After all, how many cars leave, SPEEDING, A COUNTRY GAS STATION IN THE TEXAS PRAIRIE (no trees anywhere ...) in a given day?  ESPECIALLY WITH COPS (NOMINALLY) AROUND ...

Then (mild Spoiler alert I suppose ...) the Evil Drug King-pin "Vicente Cortez" (played by Joaquín Cosio) gets taken down at an obligatory, über-swanky and SHOCKINGLY PUBLIC, Quinceañera party for his spoiled "valley-girl-accented" (in Texas...) daughter.  Honestly, if he'd be THAT STUPID to throw THAT KIND OF A PARTY at THAT TIME ... he deserved to DIE.  And how could ANYBODY THAT STUPID EVER RISE TO THE LEVEL OF BEING A LEADER OF A DRUG CARTEL?

All in all, the film seems to have been a shockingly awful script and the director / actors (PERHAPS...) tried to do the best that they could with it ... awful, just awful.

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