Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara are both capable of turning good material into great material. Unfortunately, neither of them could save Hot Pursuit. With a weak plot and unoriginal dialogue, the script by David Feeney and John Quaintance is nothing we haven’t seen before. (BKP: 3/5)
The film opens with extended exposition. We see a little blonde girl in the back of a police car, training to follow in her father’s footsteps. Years later, the little girl is now “Officer Cooper,” (Reese Witherspoon) looking eerily similar to her five-year-old self, bangs and all. Instead of using a subtle Southern accent, Witherspoon goes all-out shrill for her role as the single, uptight cop. Instead of honoring her father’s legacy, Cooper is seen as a joke in her precinct. To prove her worth, she ends up escorting a witness in need of protection, “Daniella Riva” (Sophia Vergara).
From there, the predictable plot sluggishly moves along with one slapstick bit after the other. In order to dodge two hit men, Cooper and Riva talk about periods and gross them out long enough to be left alone in the bathroom. Are period jokes still funny? Yawn. Comedian Jim Gaffigan’s cameo is wasted in a poorly-executed bit where Cooper and Riva distract him with a girl-on-girl makeout session.
Hot Pursuit ticks up the humor in a handful of scenes, one involving a truck crashing into a convertible full of cocaine. When the already high-wired Cooper starts feeling the effects of the drug, Witherspoon gives the neurotic character her all with rapid dialogue and physical comedy. Aside from a few silver linings, Witherspoon and Vergara are better than their material.
Director Anne Fletcher lets certain moments drag on too long, much like the pacing in the Barbra Streisand/Seth Rogen road trip flop, The Guilt Trip. Sporadically, the noise of their hectic world quiets down and the characters become less extreme. Those moments are few and far between. It is apparent that Witherspoon and Vergara enjoyed this movie. Unfortunately, moviegoers cannot say the same.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (5/8/15)
Photos: Reese Witherspoon as “Officer Cooper” and Sofia Vergara as “Daniella Riva”
Q: Does Hot Pursuit pass the Bechdel Test?
Yes. “Officer Cooper” (Reese Witherspoon) talks to “Daniella Riva” (Sofia Vergara) about her father and living up to his legacy. I cannot recommend the film.