By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)
I am quite surprised that a movie like this one didn’t get released in either January or February. During those months, if a film is not an award contender, it usually is among the worst movies studios have to offer. I’m thinking the producers of this attempted screwball comedy felt that the popularity of Sofia Vergara (from TV’s Modern Family) and the talent and star-power of Reese Witherspoon would lure people to purchase tickets. I strongly suggest that my readers not be swayed by this strategy. Hot Pursuit does deliver a few laughs and Reese Witherspoon performs phenomenally, but most of the attempts at humor are rather painful and Vergara’s over-the-top Latina caricature wears out its welcome very quickly.
All of her life Officer Cooper (Witherspoon) has been groomed for law enforcement. Her father, a legendary cop, inspires the strong willed and determined firecracker to follow in his footsteps. Well, the tightly wound officer has had her share of obstacles to overcome, some of the self-imposed. She gets a chance at redemption when assigned to protect Daniella Riva (Vergara), a drug dealer’s wife (Vergara) set to testify against a criminal kingpin. When hired killers try to stop this from happening Cooper must step up and prove that she really is worth a damn. This in itself is no easy task when there are few people to trust. Things are not made any easier by the fact that Riva is a loud, obnoxious spoiled brat.
Written by David Feeney, John Quaintance and directed by Anne Fletcher, Hot Pursuit comes across as mostly tepid and unfunny action/comedy. A lot of the jokes fall flat like lead balloons with only a few bright spots here and there. Intended to serve as a source of humor, the Riva character grates more than she entertains. Vergara’s figure may be easy on the eyes, but her loud screaming and rapid fire delivery is not so easy on the ears. I understand that Vergara may have a bit of an accent, but the fact that she lays it on even thicker just isn’t funny at all.
The only actress/character I found funny in the movie is Reese Witherspoon as Officer Cooper. I found her character somewhat reminiscent of her Tracy Flick from Election, but much more likable and endearing. I also wonder if she took some rapid delivery lessons from Vince Vaughn when they worked together on Four Christmases. When Officer Cooper is speaking police code and regulations, her delivery comes across as a charming, amusing and obviously more feminine version of Vaughn-speak. Witherspoon’s comic timing and performance here nearly save this movie.
I say nearly, because not only do the failed attempts at humor hold the movie back, but so does the tired, predictable and rehashed story and plot. Before I even set foot into this movie, I had a strong feeling this movie would follow the typical formula and it does. Sitting through the movie in its entirety is not an absolutely painful experience, it just isn’t completely fun one. I suppose it all depends on one’s tolerance for Sofia Vergara’s cartoonish behavior.